NEW YORK — An apparent failed car bomb in a vehicle that was smoking and emitted a small “flash” caused police to evacuate New York’s Times Square as bomb specialists dismantled the device on Saturday night, Broadway’s busiest night.
“This appears to be a car bomb that the bomb squad is in the process of dismantling,” New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne said. “We do not know the motive.” Browne said an NYPD mounted policeman spotted a box smoking in the back of the Nissan Pathfinder sport utility vehicle and that the popular tourist destination in the heart of Manhattan’s Midtown was evacuated shortly after that.
2:00 a.m press conference
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg confirmed in a news conference early Sunday that the vehicle “did indeed contain an explosive device.” “We have no idea,” who was behind the incident, said the mayor, who was speaking with Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. “There were gas cans and bomb making materials in the car,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg told reporters early Sunday morning. “Who abandoned the car and why are under investigation.”
New York City avoided what could have been “a very deadly event,” Bloomberg said, and commended a T-shirt vendor for alerting a mounted policeman of smoke coming from a sport utility vehicle at around 6:30 p.m. The wiring around the device “was nothing that looked amateurish,” Bloomberg said. “It certainly could have exploded and caused a pretty big fire and a decent amount of explosive impact.”
Authorities also found three propane tanks, batteries, consumer-grade fireworks and a locked metal box that resembled a gun locker in the vehicle.
Police evacuated several residential and commercial buildings and cleared the streets of people. Police were deployed around the area with heavy weapons on empty streets in the heart of midtown Manhattan that normally teem with thousands of theatergoers and tourists.
A U.S. official, who asked not to be identified by name, said the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was aware of the situation and was monitoring developments, but declined to comment further. The official said the New York Police Department was in charge of the investigation.
Times Square was eerily empty for several blocks on Saturday night, the busiest night of the week on the Great White Way as tourists and theater-goers watched from behind barricades as anti-terrorism units swarmed the scene.