Feds test rem­nants of bomb that in­jured 29

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS - By Jake Pearson and Ali­cia A. Cald­well

NEW YORK >> The bomb that rocked a bustling New York City neigh­bor­hood con­tained residue of an ex­plo­sive of­ten used for tar­get prac­tice that can be picked up in many sport­ing goods stores, a fed­eral law en­force­ment of­fi­cial said Sun­day, as author­i­ties tried to un­ravel who planted the de­vice and why.

The dis­cov­ery of Tan­ner­ite in ma­te­ri­als re­cov­ered from the Satur­day night ex­plo­sion that in­jured 29 peo­ple may be im­por­tant as author­i­ties probe whether the blast was con­nected to an un­ex­ploded pres­sure-cooker de­vice found by state troop­ers just blocks away, as well as a pipe bomb blast in a New Jersey shore town ear­lier in the day.

Gov. An­drew Cuomo, tour­ing the site of the blast in Man­hat­tan’s Chelsea neigh­bor­hood, known for its vi­brant arts scene and large gay com­mu­nity, said there didn’t ap­pear to be any link to in­ter­na­tional ter­ror­ism. He said the sec­ond de­vice ap­peared “sim­i­lar in de­sign” to the first, but did not pro­vide de­tails.

“We’re go­ing to be very care­ful and pa­tient to get to the full truth here,” Mayor Bill de Bla­sio said Sun­day. “We have more work to do to be able to say what kind of mo­ti­va­tion was be­hind this. Was it a po­lit­i­cal mo­ti­va­tion? A per­sonal mo­ti­va­tion? What was it? We do not know that yet.”

Cell phones were dis­cov­ered at the site of both bomb­ings, but no Tan­ner­ite residue was iden­ti­fied in the New Jersey bomb rem­nants, in which a black pow­der was de­tected, said the of­fi­cial, who spoke to The As­so­ci­ated Press on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause the of­fi­cial was not autho­rized to com­ment on an on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Author­i­ties said the Man­hat­tan bomb­ing and the blast 11 hours ear­lier at the site of a 5K race to ben­e­fit Marines and sailors in Sea­side Park, New Jersey, didn’t ap­pear to be con­nected, though they weren’t rul­ing any­thing out. The New Jersey race was can­celled and no one was in­jured.

Of­fi­cials haven’t re­vealed any de­tails about the makeup of the pres­sure­cooker de­vice, ex­cept to say it had wires and a cell­phone at­tached to it.

Tech­ni­cians in Quan­tico, Vir­ginia, were ex­am­in­ing ev­i­dence from the Man­hat­tan bomb­ing, de­scribed by wit­nesses as a deafen­ing blast that shat­tered store­front win­dows and in­jured by­s­tanders with shrap­nel in the mostly res­i­den­tial neigh­bor­hood on the city’s west side. All 29 of the in­jured peo­ple were re­leased from the hos­pi­tal by Sun­day af­ter­noon.

On Sun­day, a team of five FBI agents searched an Uber driver’s ve­hi­cle that had been da­m­aged in the Man­hat­tan blast, rip­ping off the door pan­els in­side as they ex­am­ined it for ev­i­dence.

The driver, MD Alam, of Brook­lyn, had just picked up three pas­sen­gers and was driv­ing along 23rd Street when the ex­plo­sion oc­curred, shat­ter­ing the car’s win­dows and leav­ing gap­ing holes in the rear pas­sen­ger­side door.

“It was so loud,” the 32-year-old Alam said. “I was so scared. There was a loud boom and then smoke and I just drove away.”

Alam said he hit the gas and tried to take his pas­sen­gers to their des­ti­na­tion in Queens, but pulled over along Madi­son Av­enue and 39th Street. He went to a lo­cal po­lice precinct to file a re­port for his in­sur­ance com­pany and po­lice con­tacted the FBI.

The ex­plo­sion left many rat­tled in a city that had marked the 15th an­niver­sary of the 9/11 ter­ror­ist at­tacks only a week ear­lier and where a United Na­tions meet­ing to ad­dress the refugee cri­sis in Syria was sched­uled on Monday.

“Peo­ple didn’t know what was go­ing on, and that’s what was scary,” said An­thony Zayas, an ac­tor who was in the Chelsea neigh­bor­hood Satur­day night when the bomb went off. “You didn’t know if was com­ing from the sub­way be­neath you, you didn’t know if there were other bombs, you didn’t know where to go.”

Tan­ner­ite, which is of­ten used in tar­get prac­tice to mark a shot with a cloud of smoke and small ex­plo­sion, is le­gal to pur­chase and can be found in many sport­ing goods stores. Ex­perts said a large amount would be re­quired to cre­ate a blast like the one Satur­day night, as well as an ac­cel­er­ant or other ig­ni­tor.

Po­lice and fed­eral spokes­peo­ple wouldn’t com­ment on the pres­ence of ex­plo­sive ma­te­rial re­cov­ered at the scene.

The bomb in Man­hat­tan ap­peared to have been placed near a large dump­ster in front of a build­ing un­der­go­ing con­struc­tion, an­other law en­force­ment of­fi­cial, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity to dis­cuss the on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion, told the AP. The sec­ond de­vice, de­scribed by the same of­fi­cial as a pres­sure cooker with wires and a cell­phone at­tached to it, was re­moved early Sun­day by a bomb squad ro­bot and New York City po­lice blew it up in a con­trolled ex­plo­sion Sun­day evening, author­i­ties said.

Home­made pres­sure cooker bombs were used in the Bos­ton Marathon at­tacks in 2013 that killed three peo­ple and in­jured more than 260.

Of­fi­cials so­licited tips from the pub­lic, telling re­porters at a news con­fer­ence in the New York Po­lice Depart­ment’s head­quar­ters that they didn’t know who set off the bomb or why.

An ad­di­tional 1,000 state troop­ers and mem­bers of the Na­tional Guard were placed at tran­sit hubs and other points through­out New York City and ex­tra po­lice of­fi­cials were pa­trolling Man­hat­tan, of­fi­cials said. Mem­bers of the FBI’s Joint Ter­ror­ism Task Force were in­ves­ti­gat­ing the blast along with New York Po­lice Depart­ment de­tec­tives, fire mar­shals and other fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Crime scene in­ves­ti­ga­tors work Sun­day at the scene of Satur­day’s ex­plo­sion in Man­hat­tan’s Chelsea neigh­bor­hood, in New York.

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