My Nephew Lives in NYC and I Fear for His Safety

@hofferp (4739)
United States
May 2, 2010 9:45am CST
Car Bomb Scares Times Square By TOM HAYS and CRISTIAN SALAZAR, Associated Press Writers Tom Hays And Cristian Salazar, Associated Press Writers – 12 mins ago NEW YORK – Police found an "amateurish" but potentially powerful bomb that apparently began to detonate but did not explode in a smoking sport utility vehicle in Times Square, authorities said Sunday. Thousands of tourists were cleared from the streets for 10 hours after two vendors alerted police to the suspicious vehicle, which contained three propane tanks, fireworks, two filled 5-gallon gasoline containers, and two clocks with batteries, electrical wire and other components, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said. "We avoided what we could have been a very deadly event," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. "It certainly could have exploded and had a pretty big fire and a decent amount of explosive impact." The bomb appeared to be starting to detonate but malfunctioned, top police spokesman Paul Browne said Sunday. Firefighters who arrived shortly after the first call heard a popping sound, said Fire Commissioner Sal Cassano, who described the sound as not quite an explosion. "I think the intent was to cause a significant ball of fire," Kelly said. No suspects were in custody, though Kelly said a surveillance video showed the car driving west on 45th Street before it parked between Seventh and Eighth avenues. Police were looking for more video from office buildings that weren't open at the time. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that officials are treating the incident as a potential terrorist attack. The mayor said earlier Sunday, "We have no idea who did this or why" but said it's not surprising the city is a frequent target of terrorism. "These things invariably ... come back to New York," Bloomberg said. A T-shirt vendor and a handbag vendor alerted police at about 6:30 p.m, the height of dinner hour before theatergoers head to Saturday night shows. Smoke was coming from the back of the dark-colored Pathfinder, its hazard lights were on and "it was just sitting there," said Rallis Gialaboukis, 37, another vendor who has hawked his wares for 20 years across the street. Duane Jackson, a 58-year-old handbag vendor from Buchanan, N.Y., said he noticed the car at around 6:30 p.m. and wondered who had left it there. "That was my first thought: Who sat this car here?" Jackson said Sunday. Jackson said he looked in the car and saw keys in the ignition with 19 or 20 keys on a ring. He said he alerted a passing mounted police officer. "That's when the smoke started coming out and then we heard the little pop pop pop like firecrackers going out and that's when everybody scattered and ran back," he said. "Now that I saw the propane tanks and the gasoline, what if that would have ignited?" Jackson said. "I'm less than 8 feet away from the car. We dodged a bullet here." He didn't think the car had been there for more than 10 or 15 minutes. A white robotic police arm broke windows of the SUV to remove any explosive materials. A Connecticut license plate on the vehicle did not match up, Bloomberg said. Police interviewed the Connecticut car owner, who told them he had sent the plates to a nearby junkyard, Bloomberg said. The SUV was towed early Sunday to a forensic lab in Queens, where it was being "thoroughly checked for prints, hairs and fibers," Browne said Sunday. Napolitano said fingerprints had been recovered from the vehicle. Heavily armed police and emergency vehicles shut down the city's busiest streets, choked with taxis and people on one of the first summer-like days of the year. Times Square lies about four traffic-choked miles north of where terrorists bombed the World Trade Center in 1993, then laid waste to it on Sept. 11, 2001. The car was parked on one of the prime blocks for Broadway shows, with seven theaters housing such big shows as "The Lion King" and "Billy Elliot." The curtain at "God of Carnage" and "Red" opened a half-hour later than usual, but the shows were not canceled, said spokesman Adrian Bryan-Brown. Katy Neubauer, 46, and Becca Saunders, 39, of Milwaukee, were shopping for souvenirs two blocks south of the SUV when they saw panicked crowds. "It was a mass of people running away from the scene," Neubauer said. Said Saunders: "There were too many people, too many cops. I've never seen anything like it." Bloomberg left early from the White House correspondent's dinner Saturday night. President Barack Obama, who attended the annual gala, praised the quick response by the New York Police Department, White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said. He has also directed his homeland security and counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, to advise New York officials that the federal government is prepared to provide support. Brennan and others will keep Obama up to date on the investigation, Shapiro said. The FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force in New York responded along with the NYPD, said agent Richard Kolko. The latest terror threat in New York came last fall when air shuttle driver Najibullah Zazi admitted to a foiled homemade bomb plot aimed at the city subway system. The theater district in London was the target of a propane bomb attack in 2007. No one was injured when police discovered two Mercedes loaded with nails packed around canisters of propane and gasoline. Officials said the device found Saturday was crudely constructed, but Islamic militants have used propane and compressed gas for years to enhance the force of explosives. Those instances include the 1983 suicide attack on the U.S. Marines barracks at the Beirut airport that killed 241 U.S. service members, and the 2007 attack on the international airport in Glasgow, Scotland. In 2007, the U.S. military announced that an al-Qaida front group was using propane to rig car bombs in Iraq. Times Square has been a frequent target, if not for potential terrorists, then for rabble-rousers. In December, a parked van without license plates led police to block off part of the area for about two hours. A police robot examined the vehicle, and clothes, racks and scarves were found inside. In March 2008, a hooded bicyclist hurled an explosive device at a military recruiting center, producing a flash, smoke and full-scale emergency response. No suspect was ever identified. Police have spent years trying to crack down on street hustlers and peddlers preying on tourists. But there have been two major gunfights in recent months. A street hustler armed with a machine pistol exchanged shots in December, shattering a Broadway theater ticket window, before police fatally shot him. Four shootings and more than 50 arrests on a mile-long stretch of Manhattan last month around Times Square prompted the mayor to call the mayhem "wilding." ___ Contributing to this report were AP Washington bureau chief Ron Fournier, AP Radio correspondent Julie Walker in New York and Associated Press writers Eileen Sullivan and Pete Yost in Washington, Michael Kuchwara in New York and Robert H. Reid in Kabul. ___ My nephew lives in NYC and the fear of another attack on NYC is always on my mind. I am concerned for his safety. Do you have any relatives/friends in NYC? Do you fear for their safety? While it's true, the next attack could be anywhere, I especially am concerned about NYC as the on-going target. I am interested in your thoughts on this latest terrorist attempt.
1 person likes this
5 responses
@laglen (19782)
• United States
3 May 10
This story was scary and I dont have anybody in New York. I feel for you. Although my daughter wants to go there after college, you can imagine how excited I am about that! A good Christmas present for your nephew may be a flak jacket...
@hofferp (4739)
• United States
3 May 10
Good morning, Laglen. I'm not sure a flak jacket would be enough, but it's a thought. NYC is a neat place to visit, but to live there? I know as a youngster, my nephew's 26, it's probably the coolest. He loves the arts, fashion, Broadway...well just about everything. I think I told you, he's going to start school (hair and make-up) this fall. He loves doing make-up, including scary movie make-up with bullit holes, blood, scars, etc. He says there's a demand for it, if you're good, and he is pretty good, I must admit. He loves Halloween -- he's always on demand... Well enough... It still scares me that he's off in NYC alone. That's why I make him check in with me everyday He calls to see if he can wake me up...he's succeeded a couple of times, but now that it's spring, I'm usually sitting by the phone waiting for his call.
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@laglen (19782)
• United States
3 May 10
Thats great that he calls. That should help a bit and he sounds great! Talent will take him a long way but his heart will get him to where he needs to be! I figure that I will just lock up my child and never let her out.....
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@hofferp (4739)
• United States
6 May 10
I think they call that child abuse, Laglen...
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@lelin1123 (15644)
• Puerto Rico
3 May 10
Yes I have nieces and nephews who work and live in New York. Its very scary because anything could happen at a minutes notice. If it wasn't for the few people noticing that the SUV was smoking who knows what could have happened. Being a survival of 9/11 in the World Trade Center I know all to well the consequences. I just feel that they will continue to try and take New York down and even bigger then 9/11 and that scares me. I fear for my family, but we have to be observant as citizens at all times and when anyone sees something strange report it right away. However, we can't live in constant fear because then that is not living.
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@hofferp (4739)
• United States
3 May 10
I empathise! And you're right, we have to be very observant. I hope that my nephew is observant, but sometimes I wonder... Thank you, Lelin, for the comments. I hope you have a safe and wonderful day.
@lelin1123 (15644)
• Puerto Rico
3 May 10
Thank you and you too!
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@lelin1123 (15644)
• Puerto Rico
7 May 10
Thank you for the best response mark. Have a great day!
@dawnald (84146)
• Shingle Springs, California
4 May 10
Scary, but then so was Oklahoma City. I guess you really don't know where they will strike next. He could move to Podunk, IL or something and get hit by a car. I'm sure he'll be just fine, but I can understand your worrying...
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@hofferp (4739)
• United States
4 May 10
That's true. In fact he lived outside Oklahoma City when the bombing took place there! But between NYC and OKC, I'd rather it be OKC or Podunk. I'd rather it be Dallas where his sisters live or here in Las Cruces where his grandmother and I live. But I'll try to keep the worry down. Thanks for your response.
• United States
2 May 10
I can tell you I am glad I live in a little quite town so I don't have to worry about things like that. I hope your nephew is careful. It would scare me to live there. NYC seems to be a big target for the terrorists. It has got to effecting the economy there. Tourism and things. I know these kinds of things can happen anywhere but it always seem to happen in NYC.
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@hofferp (4739)
• United States
2 May 10
NYC does have a big bulls eye painted on it because it does have so many people, the financial center, etc. and that all scares me for my nephew. He said if he didn't live in NYC, he'd like to live here, in NM, in Las Cruces, with my Mom or me. I've told him to come, we'd work something out. Anything to get him out of NYC. But it may be awhile. When I talked to him this morning (he calls every day), he asked me, "what bomb?" I asked him if he ever watched the news! KIDS! Anyway, thanks for your comments, and I agree, I prefer my quiet little town (even though it's not so little anymore and with all the border crud going on south of me (40 miles) it's not so quiet either).
@max1950 (2313)
• United States
2 May 10
n.y.c. is a great place to live for young people if they can afford it, n.y. as with other major large cities you have to know where and where not to go, and stay out of certain sections of town. times square is where all the shows are along broadway great restaurants and deli's but from a bombers point of view would do the most damage. the ny city police dept are the best in the world and have cops on every corner and not just 1 but many. plain clothes, narcs etc, you never know where they are but believe me their there in force. excuse the caps cant find my reading glasses, im sure he'll be fine if he keeps the right company friend wise.
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@hofferp (4739)
• United States
2 May 10
Thanks, Max. My nephew's lived in NYC for a little over two years. He says he loves it (better than LA; he doesn't need a car). But the threats against NYC are always on my mind. I just hope nothing happens... Thanks for reassuring me about the protection in place. Have a great day in sunny Florida.