Pipe bomb ex­plodes be­fore Marines char­ity run; no in­juries

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - WEATHER - By Michael Balsamo and Bruce Ship­kowski

pipe bomb ex­ploded in a New Jersey shore town Sat­ur­day shortly be­fore thou­sands of run­ners were to par­tic­i­pate in a char­ity 5K race to ben­e­fit Marines and sailors, au­thor­i­ties said.

No in­juries were re­ported in the blast in Seaside Park around 9:30 a.m. Sat­ur­day, said Al Della Fave, spokesman for the Ocean County Pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fice. He said no sur­round­ing struc­tures were dam­aged.

The FBI has taken over as the lead agency in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. But of­fi­cials would not say whether they be­lieve the in­ci­dent was ter­ror-re­lated or if they sus­pected par­tic­i­pants in the third an­nual Sem­per Five run were tar­geted.

Brad Cohen, the act­ing spe­cial agent in charge of the FBI’s of­fice in Ne­wark, de­clined to dis­cuss the mat­ter at length dur­ing a brief news con­fer­ence staged Sat­ur­day evening. He also de­clined to take ques­tions from re­porters, cit­ing the “ac­tive, on­go­ing” in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The race had been sched­uled to start shortly be­fore the blast oc­curred, but it was de­layed due to the large num­bers of peo­ple reg­is­ter­ing for the race and reports of an unat­tended back­pack be­ing found. Della Fave noted that if the race had started on time, a “good num­ber of peo­ple” would have been run­ning past the area where the ex­plo­sion oc­curred.

The race was can­celed, and the im­me­di­ate area was put on lock­down. Sev­eral homes near the scene were evac­u­ated as a pre­cau­tion, though those res­i­dents were al­lowed to re­turn home early Sat­ur­day night. How­ever, au­thor­i­ties said sev­eral beaches in the area would re­main closed un­til fur­ther no­tice.

The pipe bomb was in a plas­tic garbage can when it ex­ploded, Della Fave said, but the im­me­di­ate area where the blast oc­curred was mostly empty at the time. Au­thor­i­ties im­me­di­ately cleared the board­walk and beach area, and bomb-sniff­ing dogs were used to search the area.

Shortly af­ter the blast oc­curred, Della Fave told re­porters at the scene that pre­lim­i­nary reports said there may have been other de­vices con­nected to the pipe bomb, but those de­vices ap­par­ently had not gone off.

New Jersey State Po­lice said later in the day that bomb tech­ni­cians “ren­dered safe” items lo­cated in a plas­tic trash can where the ex­plo­sion oc­curred; they did not spec­ify what those items were or pro­vide fur­ther de­tails, cit­ing the on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion. They also said there was noth­ing to reports of another ex­plo­sive de­vice near the site of the ex­plo­sion.

Chad Ruedin, who hap­pened to be walk­ing along the board­walk when the blast oc­curred, told News12 New Jersey that when he heard the ex­plo­sion, he ini­tially thought it was the start of the char­ity race. But af­ter think­ing about it for a minute, Ruedin said he thought to him­self “that was one hell of a start to a race.”

Ruedin said he soon saw smoke com­ing from the garbage can and saw other de­bris in the area, though he didn’t know if those items were parts of the can and/or trash that had been in the re­cep­ta­cle.

Nu­mer­ous state and fed­eral law en­force­ment agen­cies were in­volved in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. At­tor­ney Gen­eral Christo­pher Por­rino and Col. Rick Fuentes, su­per­in­ten­dent of the state po­lice, briefed Gov. Chris Christie on the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“Work­ing with the FBI and ATF, we are tak­ing ev­ery step to en­sure the safety of the pub­lic and to de­ter­mine who was re­spon­si­ble for this ex­plo­sion, which oc­curred at a time when run­ners in this char­ity race could have been in harm’s way,” Por­rino said in a state­ment. “We are grate­ful that no­body was in­jured, but this is a se­ri­ous act of vi­o­lence against the peo­ple of New Jersey. We will not rest un­til we find the per­son or per­sons re­spon­si­ble.”

Con­gress­man Tom MacArthur, who rep­re­sents the area that in­cludes Burling­ton and Ocean coun­ties, de­scribed the per­son re­spon­si­ble for the in­ci­dent as “men­tally un­hinged.”

He de­scribed the com­mu­nity as mil­i­tary cen­tered, with lots of veter­ans and ac­tive duty mil­i­tary per­son­nel. He said those in the area have been through a lot, with Su­per­storm Sandy and its af­ter­math, and now the bomb blast.

He said he’s con­fi­dent law en­force­ment will find the per­son re­spon­si­ble. MacArthur said that per­son needs to be “tracked down and brought to jus­tice.”

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