Editors Note: At the time of this posting, a suspect has been identified and arrested. Details will be forthcoming.
NEW YORK – A bomb detonated on Saturday in the Chelsea area in Manhattan and another one that failed to detonate, found a few blocks away, were both pressure cookers filled with shrapnel. The motive of the bombing is yet to be determined and the suspect(s) still to be found.
Other materials that made up the bombs were flip phones and Christmas lights that set off a powerful explosive compound, according to law enforcement officials. Police continued to scour the area Sunday for clues regarding responsibility and motive for the explosion.
The police confirmed the photo below to be an authentic destructive device. It is simply a pressure cooker with wires and a cell phone attached to it.
BREAKING PHOTO! Here is the second device found by a NYSP Sgt. At 27 street and 7 Ave. investigation is ongoing pic.twitter.com/x7o9Rr30I3
— New York City Alerts (@NYCityAlerts) September 18, 2016
New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood, which is usually crowded during the weekend, being among the most fashionable districts of Manhattan with its bars, restaurants, subway stations, shops, businesses, and art galleries, was shaken. As investigators examine surveillance video to search for clues, police officers, and federal agents searched the streets with flashlights, robots, and dogs early Sunday to ensure there were no other devices in the area, according to a CNN report.
The explosion injured 29 people, sent hundreds more scrambling for cover, and prompted several street closures. The victims primarily suffered cuts and abrasions. All had been released from the hospital by Sunday morning.
As authorities isolated the area where the explosion occurred with crime scene tape, onlookers said residents who live on the block still hadn’t been allowed to return to their homes.
Eleven hours earlier in Elizabeth, New Jersey, three pipe bombs were deployed near a train station, but only one detonated. Initially, government representatives did not believe the two cases were linked. But later Sunday, senior law enforcement officials said investigators were focusing on the possibility they were connected.
“We do not have any specific evidence of a connection, but that will continue to be considered,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “We’re not taking any options off the table.”
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said at a news conference Sunday, “This is one of the nightmare scenarios. We really were very lucky that there were no fatalities.”
City and state officials, including Mayor de Blasio and Gov. Cuomo, toured the area and promised a thorough investigation. By Sunday night, police were engaged in a large-scale search for the person(s) responsible.
A crime of this magnitude would always be high priority, yet the search for suspect(s) is more urgent than it would otherwise be as President Obama and other world leaders are coming to New York this week for the annual United Nations General Assembly.
Beefed up security from the New York State Police and National Guard will be dispatched, in addition to patrols from the city’s heavily armed counter-terrorism units, promised Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio.
According to a NY Times report, an expert on improvised explosive devices (IED) used by terrorists around the world said that a device constructed with a cellular phone as a timer and Christmas lights as an initiator would indicate a higher-than-average competence than is usually found in the United States. “Most of what we see in the United States is a pipe bomb with black powder or smokeless powder or a simple hobby fuse,” said the expert, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he does sensitive work for government agencies. “This would be the high-end of sophistication for IEDs in the United States.”
Two state troopers alerted by 911 calls about a suspicious item, found the second undetonated device on 27th Street. It was rendered safe and removed by the NYPD Bomb Squad.
The remnants of the detonated device, the second undetonated contrivance, and the pipe bombs found in New Jersey were sent to the FBI’s lab in Quantico, Virginia.
Surveillance videos in New York and New Jersey are being reviewed as the police continue to find clues and are trying to understand the choice of location for the bombs.
A CNN report said the surveillance videos showed the same man near the site of the explosion and in another location where the unexploded device was found four blocks away, according to multiple local and federal law enforcement sources. They said the video showed a man dragging what appeared to be a duffle bag with wheels near the 23rd street explosion site about 40 minutes before the blast.
About 10 minutes later, the same man, with what appeared to be the same duffel bag, was seen at West 27th street as shown in the video, according to multiple law enforcement sources. The man left the duffel bag where police later found the unexploded pressure cooker. After he left, the video showed two men removing a white garbage bag believed to contain the pressure cooker from the duffel bag and leave it on the sidewalk, according to a senior law enforcement official and another source familiar with the video.
The suspicious circumstances are part of the investigative process. Answers to apparent questions are currently unknown.