NY explosion was bombing, motive unknown, UN assessing security
Posted: Sep 18 2016 09:41AM EDT
Updated: Sep 18 2016 05:10PM EDT
NEW YORK (AP) - Investigators scrambled to find out who planted a bomb that rocked a bustling New York City neighborhood and why Sunday, scouring shrapnel, forensic traces and surveillance video for any link to an unexploded pressure-cooker device found a few blocks away.
There seemed to be more questions than answers hours after the Saturday night blast that injured 29 people in Manhattan. All of them have since been released from the hospital.
"We just know there was a bombing," Mayor Bill de Blasio said at briefing at New York Police Department's headquarters. "That much we do know."
Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who toured the site of the blast in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood, said there didn't appear to be any link to international terrorism. He said a second device found blocks away from the bombing appeared "similar in design" to the first.
That device -- described by a law enforcement official as a pressure cooker with wires and a cellphone attached to it -- was removed early Sunday morning by a bomb squad robot and is being examined by forensic experts.
The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the official wasn't authorized to speak publicly about an ongoing investigation.
The New Jersey device contained evidence of a black powder, while the device that exploded in Manhattan had residue from an explosive called Tannerite, said a federal law enforcement official.
The official wasn't authorized to discuss details of the ongoing investigation and spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity.
Tannerite is often used in target shooting to mark a shot with a cloud of smoke and small explosion.
The bombing rocked the city's Chelsea neighborhood, a mostly residential part of Manhattan's west side known for its art galleries and large gay population.
A federal law enforcement official told the AP on Sunday that the FBI was evaluating a claim of responsibility for the New York City bombing on the social blogging service Tumblr. The official, who wasn't authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation by name and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity, said the FBI was aware of the posting and was working to determine its authenticity.
Witnesses described hearing a deafening blast, and surveillance video footage captured images of nearby windows being blown out by the explosion as people sprinted away from the scene.
"It was extremely loud, almost like thunder but louder," said Rudy Alcide, a bouncer at a nightclub near the blast.
Members of the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force are investigating the blast along with New York Police Department detectives, fire marshals and other federal investigators. As a precaution, Cuomo said he was deploying an additional 1,000 state troopers and members of the National Guard throughout New York City.
The first device, which exploded on West 23rd Street at about 8:30 p.m., appeared to have been caused by an improvised explosive device placed inside a toolbox in front of a building undergoing construction, the law enforcement official said.
The second device, found later inside a plastic bag on West 27th Street, appeared to be a pressure cooker with wiring and a cellphone attached to it, the official said.
Federal investigators in Quantico, Virginia, will examine evidence from the explosions in New York and New Jersey.
The White House said President Barack Obama was apprised of the explosion.
The investigation into the Manhattan explosion came as world leaders descend on the United Nations for a meeting Monday to address the refugee crisis and the Syrian conflict. The blast site is about 2 miles away.
The United Nations is assessing security in the wake of an explosion in New York's Chelsea district as the organization prepares to host world leaders arriving for the General Assembly.
A U.N. spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said Sunday that security inside the complex "is being assessed on a constant basis."
He pointed out that security outside the U.N. is the responsibility of the host country.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump moved ahead of New York City officials when he declared a "bomb went off" before officials had released details. He made the announcement minutes after stepping off his plane in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
"I must tell you that just before I got off the plane a bomb went off in New York and nobody knows what's going on," Trump said.
He continued, "But boy we are living in a time -- we better get very tough, folks. We better get very, very tough. It's a terrible thing that's going on in our world, in our country and we are going to get tough and smart and vigilant."
A spokeswoman for Trump didn't respond to an email asking whether he was briefed about it before taking the stage.
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton released this statement: “I strongly condemn the apparent terrorist attacks in Minnesota, New Jersey, and New York. I pray for all of those who were wounded, and for their families. Once again, we saw the bravery of our first responders who run toward danger to help others. Their quick actions saved lives. Law enforcement officials are working to identify who was behind the attacks in New York and New Jersey and we should give them the support they need to finish the job and bring those responsible to justice - we will not rest until that happens. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack in Minnesota, and this should steel our resolve to protect our country and defeat ISIS and other terrorist groups. I have laid out a comprehensive plan to do that. This includes launching an intelligence surge to help identify and thwart attacks before they can be carried out, and to spot lone wolf attackers. We also need to work with Silicon Valley to counter propaganda and recruitment efforts online. Americans have faced threats before, and our resilience in the face of them only makes us stronger. I am confident we will once again choose resolve over fear.”