NYC explosion an ‘intentional act,’ but no known link to global terrorism

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A New York Police Department officer directs traffic at the corner of 7th Avenue and 23rd Street, not far from a blast Saturday that injured 29 people. Photo By Michael D. Regan/PBS NewsHour

A New York Police Department officer directs traffic at the corner of 7th Avenue and 23rd Street, not far from a blast that injured 29 people on Saturday night. Photo By Michael D. Regan/PBS NewsHour

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday a bomb blast that rattled a lower Manhattan neighborhood a day earlier does not appear to have ties to a global terrorism network.

“We find no ISIS connection,” Cuomo said at a press conference in downtown Manhattan. “But a bomb going off is generically a terrorist activity. And that’s how we’re going to consider it.”

The blast occurred at approximately at 8:30 p.m. EDT in front of 131 West 23rd Street in the Chelsea neighborhood. As police descended upon the scene, blocking roadways and shutting down large sections of New York, a street-by-street search soon uncovered a second explosive device a short distance away on West 27th Street, though it did not ignite.

Police are reviewing surveillance video from both locations, but do not have a suspect.

By Sunday, as New Yorkers walked through the area around the crime scene, navigating around blocked-off avenues and weaving between police vehicles and barricades, investigators continued to scour the area for evidence.

At a press conference Sunday afternoon, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said it was too early to tell the reason for the bombing, but “we know from everything we’ve seen so far this was an intentional act.”

“But again, we do not know the motivation, we do not know the nature of it,” he said. “That’s what we have to do more work on.”

FBI investigators search an area near the scene of a bomb placed in a garbage Dumpster Saturday night. Authorities said the blast does not appear to have links to a global terrorism network. Photo By Michael D. Regan/PBS NewsHour

FBI investigators search an area near the scene of an explosion Saturday night. Authorities said the blast does not appear to have links to a global terrorism network. Photo By Michael D. Regan/PBS NewsHour

Another bombing took place earlier on Saturday along the Jersey Shore just before a 5K race benefiting U.S. Marines began. No one was injured when a pipe bomb went off near the race, and de Blasio said “we have no specific evidence” that the incidents were linked.

The 29 people hurt during Saturday’s blast in New York, apparently from shrapnel released during the explosion, have been released from the hospital, de Blasio said.

New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill said the bomb appeared to have components of an improvised explosive device, which shattered windows and sent shockwaves through the surrounding streets of Manhattan Saturday.

Two members of the New York City Fire Department's Tower Ladder 12 sit stationed on Sunday near the intersection of 6th Avenue and 22nd Street. Photo By Michael D. Regan/PBS NewsHour

Two members of the New York City Fire Department’s Tower Ladder 12 sit stationed on Sunday near the intersection of 6th Avenue and 22nd Street. Photo By Michael D. Regan/PBS NewsHour

Anthony Stanhope, a 39-year-old musician who lives a block away from the explosion on West 24th Street, said he heard a “big boom” on Saturday and assumed it was thunder. Then he stepped outside his apartment building.

“And I said, ‘Now wait a minute, this can’t be, there’s no clouds in the sky,’” he told the NewsHour. “Then I thought it could be a gas leak that exploded, but there was nothing outside. I said wait a minute, it’s a bomb.”

Anthony Zayas, 38, who lives in the same building as Stanhope, said he knew what the noise was instantly.

“Everybody ran out of their buildings into the street,” he said. “Nobody knew what to do. Everybody was just looking around, nobody knew what to do, including myself.”

David Benedict, 19, is a film and television student at New York University who lives on West 18th Street, not far from the blast. Like Stanhope, he initially thought the explosion he heard was due to weather.

“And then, like within 20 to 30 seconds, half the NYPD was screaming past my window,” he recalled.

The blast came less than one week after the 15th anniversary of September 11, on the fifth anniversary of Occupy Wall Street protests and just days before the United Nations convenes a general assembly meeting in New York City.

O’Neill said the city already had planned to have a heavy police presence for the assembly, though the bombing means security will be even tighter. Cuomo said 1,000 police from state forces and the National Guard would respond to the explosion.

“We’re always on alert in New York,” O’Neill said.

Benedict said he wasn’t particularly concerned about another attack.

“I feel like the NYPD had it under control,” he said. “It was a very coordinated, put-together response. If someone is going to put another bomb in a trash can, I can’t stop it from going off.”

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