In Conn., Police Gather Evidence In N.Y. Bomb Case

In Bridgeport, Conn., on Tuesday, police searched a home rented by Faisal Shahzad. Police spent the day recovering items from that home and another home Shahzad owned at one time in a neighboring community.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

And the investigation is continuing, in part, in Pakistan. Authorities there tell NPR's Julie McCarthy that they have arrested eight people in connection with the attempted Times Square bombing.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

One was detained in the Port of Karachi, while seven were picked up in the Nowshera district of the North-West Frontier Province.

The alleged bomber, Faisal Shahzad, is originally from the same area and according to court papers, received bomb-making training in Waziristan.

SIEGEL: We're only now starting to pull together the disparate pieces of Shahzad's life. NPR's Robert Smith reports from outside his home in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

ROBERT SMITH: As police were pulling Shahzad off a plane at JFK, agents were also swooping into this working-class neighborhood in East Bridgeport, to search the house where he was staying. Sheridan Street is quiet, filled with multi-family rental homes. Luz Kebon(ph) lives right across the street from Shahzad, and she says she was asleep when the neighborhood erupted last night.

Ms. LUZ KEBON: I didn't hear anything, just the banging on the window when there was - the cops. That's all I heard.

SMITH: And what did they say?

Ms. KEBON: They told us that we had to evacuate the house. And then when we came outside, we've seen all police and, you know, the neighbors coming out. And we're like, oh, my God. What's going on? And they told us we had to leave, at least go to a diner or something like that.

SMITH: Those who stayed behind, say police, some in white suits, took box after box from Shahzad's apartment. Among the things they found, investigators say, were fertilizer and black powder similar to that in the Times Square bomb.

Luz Kebon says she remembers that Shahzad drove a white car, and she was surprised when a dark SUV appeared in the driveway last week.

Ms. KEBON: And I seen - when I seen it on the news, I was like, oh, my God. It's the same car that just drove out the other day when I seen it. And that's why I was like, you know, that day I seen him come out. I was like, that's kind of weird, who's that?

SMITH: Who's that? That's what everyone here is asking about Faisal Shahzad. We know he was born in Pakistan. When he was around 18 years old, he came to the United States on a student visa. He first attended a college in Washington D.C., then transferred to the University of Bridgeport. He got a B.S. in computer science in the year 2000, then an M.B.A. in 2005.

Ward Thrasher, assistant dean, says that not many people remember him.

Mr. WARD THRASHER (Assistant Dean, University of Bridgeport School of Business): He appears to have not left a strong impression on any of our faculty members, either positive nor negative. He fell into the broad number of students that are neither remarkably good nor bad.

SMITH: But he did learn enough, apparently, to stay in the country. In 2002, Faisal Shahzad was granted an H1B visa for skilled workers. And everything seemed to be going great. He got a job at Affinion, a marketing firm in Norwalk, as a financial analyst. He got married to a U.S. citizen, Huma Asif Mian, and he became a U.S. citizen himself in April of 2009.

It was only in the last year or so that we have evidence that all was not well in Shahzad's life. He lived in a pretty, gray house in Shelton, Connecticut, and neighbors say he had two children, a boy and a girl. But Fred Buscay(ph) says Shahzad was working a lot.

Mr. FRED BUSCAY: We never even saw him half of the time. He was a nice guy, as far as I knew.

SMITH: But the company says he left his job voluntarily in June of last year. The bank foreclosed on that little house in Shelton. And authorities say that Shahzad left for a long trip to the Middle East. When Shahzad returned to the United States in February of this year, there was no sign of his family. He moved into the apartment here on Sheridan Street and didn't talk to many people. One neighbor says he only saw him at night, but heard him playing the radio at all hours.

The next time he made his mark is when he allegedly purchased a Nissan Pathfinder off of Craigslist, the same car that ended up as a bomb in Times Square.

Robert Smith, NPR News, in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

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