NPR logo Hunt On For Suspect; Times Square Bomb Attempt Treated As Terrorism


Hunt On For Suspect; Times Square Bomb Attempt Treated As Terrorism

More details are emerging this morning about the frightening incident last evening in New York City's Times Square, where thousands of people were evacuated and streets were cleared after a potentially deadly bomb was discovered inside a parked sports utility vehicle.

And, also this morning, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said on NBC's Meet the Press that the incident is being treated as an attempted terrorist attack.

The New York Daily News is reporting that "three heroic cops and a quick-thinking street vendor" deserve thanks for spotting the threat and getting people out of harm's way.

The t-shirt vendor saw smoke coming from the SUV, which NPR member station WNYC says was parked on 45th Street, just off Broadway. He alerted mounted officer Wayne Rhatigan, who inspected the vehicle, smelled gunpowder and quickly enlisted two other cops to start clearing the area. After bomb specialists arrived:

"Investigators removed three propane tanks, fireworks, two filled 5-gallon gasoline containers, and two clocks with batteries, electrical wire and other components from the back of the Nissan Pathfinder, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said. A black metal box resembling a gun locker was also recovered and will be detonated off site, he said." (Associated Press)

"We are very lucky," Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said at a 2:15 a.m. press conference. "We avoided what could have been a very deadly event." (The New York Times)

Now the search is on for the person or persons responsible. WNYC reports that "police say they believe that they have video of the Nissan moving in traffic earlier in the day." The Times writes that:

"Officials said they had no reports of anyone seen running from the vehicle. Mr. Kelly said police were scouring the area for any additional videotapes but noted that the S.U.V.'s windows were tinted, which could further hamper any efforts to identify those inside. Some of the surveillance cameras nearby were located in closed businesses, and the mayor made clear it would take time to review all available tapes. 'We have no idea who did this or why,' Mr. Bloomberg said."

The Wall Street Journal reports that "most of the streets in the area were reopened Sunday morning, though a heavy police presence remained in the area."