Suspicious Vehicle Briefly Clears Part of Union Square

Friday, May 14, 2010

New York City police evacuated part of an apartment building and blocked off some streets near Manhattan's Union Square after a Thursday night report of a suspicious vehicle with gas in the back seat, but nothing threatening was found. NYPD investigators located the owner of the 1991 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera, which was parked in front of the Con Edison utility building around 10 p.m. He told police he had the gas cans in his car because he mows lawns for his family. He parked the car in the area because he was attending a concert nearby, police said. The bomb squad suited up and began an investigation after a Con Edison employee called 911 to report the vehicle as suspicious because of the two gas cans in the back seat on the floor, said Chief Police spokesman Paul Browne. The city has been jittery since May 1, when a sport utility vehicle loaded with gasoline and propane began smoking in Times Square but did not explode. Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani-born American citizen, was arrested and charged federally in the case. Since that attempt, there have been several reports of suspicious vehicles and packages around the city that have turned out to be false alarms. Browne said several floors of a high-rise residential building were evacuated and some streets in the area were blocked off as a precaution. They were in the process of reopening. Union Square, located on Manhattan's East Side, is a major pedestrian and tourist thoroughfare. New York University, Greenwich Village, and the landmark Flatiron building are nearby. Earlier Thursday, President Barack Obama was in the city at a fundraiser, and met with police officials to congratulate them on their counterterrorism efforts.

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