After Weekend Blast, Another Bomb Discovered In New York City Region

Sep 19, 2016
Originally published on September 19, 2016 8:31 am
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Another bomb has been discovered in the New York City region. Overnight, police in Elizabeth, N.J., investigated a suspicious device found in a trash can near a train station. The mayor of the city of Elizabeth, Chris Bollwage, told reporters this device exploded as a bomb squad was attempting to disarm it.

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CHRIS BOLLWAGE: The robots that were going in to disarm it cut a wire, and it exploded. I don't know the technological aspect of that. I know there are other devices. I don't know what they're made up of, but they're going to have to be removed.

GREENE: Luckily, no injuries were reported in that incident. Let's bring in NPR's Jeff Brady, who joins us from New York City, where he's been monitoring many of these events.

Jeff, good morning.

JEFF BRADY, BYLINE: Good morning.

GREENE: I mean, this is sort of alarming to have a mayor talking about a cut wire and a bomb squad exploding a device. Do we have any idea what's going on here?

BRADY: Yeah, Mayor Bollwage says two men came across this device in a trash can. They picked it up, then saw wires coming out of it. They dropped it. They reported it to police. And as the local bomb squad was trying to disarm it, it exploded.

And this happened in just the last few hours. It stopped train service in the area. We were seeing reports from Amtrak passengers on Twitter traveling to and from New York that they were left there waiting on the tracks.

GREENE: And this comes, of course, after something that you've spent much of your weekend covering. On Saturday evening, in lower Manhattan, a bomb exploded there, injuring 29 people - some sort of connection that we think is there?

BRADY: We don't know yet. But, you know, it's hard not to believe that there could be. And you can be sure investigators are working that angle. This morning, there are going to be a lot more uniformed patrols here on the street in New York. Governor Andrew Cuomo, over the weekend, directed 1,000 state troopers and National Guard soldiers to join police on patrols.

And the investigation into whoever planted the bomb here in New York and why they did that, that investigation continues. We know that investigators are poring over surveillance videos from two sites in question - one where a pressure cooker bomb exploded on Saturday night and another a few blocks away that did not explode.

GREENE: I mean, that's not all. There was another bomb this weekend about 80 miles south of New York, in Seaside Park, N.J., right?

BRADY: Yeah, they're just piling up here. And that bomb went off on Saturday morning. No one was hurt. It detonated before a charity run. A bomb was placed along the running route. That sounds a lot like the Boston Marathon bombing back in April of 2013.

GREENE: Yeah.

BRADY: And then this bomb here in New York, it was a pressure cooker bomb, very similar to the bombs used up in Boston, filled with BBs and ball bearings, designed to hurt just about anybody who was close by. And law enforcement sources close to the investigation are telling us this weekend's bombs had - they were a little more sophisticated than the mix of explosives we saw in the Boston bombs.

So at first, authorities were saying there was no indication of a connection between the pipe bomb in New Jersey and the devices here in New York. But that could be changing. And all three of these bombs had flip phones, and the explosive mix was sort of similar.

GREENE: How nervous are people?

BRADY: You know, yesterday, I talked with people around the streets here. And they were pretty committed to just kind of going along with their lives. I talked with - even tourists, as well as local folks. I talked with Michelle Ono of Honolulu, Hawaii. She's here for a few days and says she's sticking with her original tour plans.

MICHELLE ONO: You can't stop your life. You just have to keep going. I mean, I could trip across the street and something happens. So, you know, you just let it be and let the police and all of them take care of what needs to be done.

BRADY: And her husband, Michael, said he noticed a lot of police around. That could be because a lot of world leaders are here, including President Obama, in New York for the United Nations General Assembly meetings this week.

GREENE: OK, a story we'll obviously be covering throughout the morning. NPR's Jeff Brady in New York. Jeff, thanks a lot.

BRADY: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.