29 people injured in ‘intentional’ blast in New York
New York City firefighters stand near the site of an explosion in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, New York, U.S. September 18, 2016. REUTERS photoAn explosion rocked a crowded Manhattan neighborhood and injured 29 people, and a suspicious device discovered blocks away was safely removed early Sept. 18. The city’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, ruled out any terror connections, but called the blast an “intentional act.”
“Tonight, New York City experienced a very bad incident,” de Blasio said at a news conference near the scene in Chelsea. “We have no credible and specific threat at this moment.”
De Blasio tried to calm any fears among nervous New Yorkers, saying the explosion had no terrorist connection and was not related to a pipe bomb explosion earlier Sept. 17 in New Jersey that forced the cancellation of a charity run.
“Now, I want to be clear whatever the cause, whatever the intention here, New Yorkers will not be intimidated,” the mayor said. “We are not going to let anyone change who we are or how we go about our lives.”
It was unclear who was behind the blast and what motivated it.
“We believe it was intentional. As soon as we’re able to determine what specifically caused this explosion, we will report it,” de Blasio said.
A law enforcement official told The Associated Press that a second device that officers investigated four blocks from the scene appeared to be a pressure cooker attached to wiring and a cellphone. The source, speaking on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak about an ongoing investigation, said the device was found inside a plastic bag on West 27th Street. The device was removed with a robot and taken to a department firing range in the Bronx.
The law enforcement official also said that the explosion that rocked a bustling Chelsea neighborhood appeared to have come from a construction toolbox in front of a building. Photos from the scene show a twisted and crumpled black metal box.
The blast happened on West 23rd street, in front of a residence for the blind, near a major thoroughfare with many restaurants. Witnesses said the explosion at about 8:30 p.m. blew out the windows of businesses and scattered debris in the area. Officials said no evacuations were necessary.
Fire Department Commissioner Daniel Nigro said several people were taken to hospitals with injuries. One of the injured suffered a puncture wound that was considered serious. He said the other injuries were minor, described as scrapes and bruises.
While police investigated the second site, spokesman J. Peter Donald tweeted a warning to some residents to stay away from windows facing 27th Street.
A number of New York City subway routes were affected by the explosion, which rattled some New Yorkers and visitors on the heels of the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.
Chris Gonzalez, visiting from Dallas, was having dinner with friends at a restaurant in the area.
“We felt it, we heard it, the restaurant went real quiet, the 26-year-old Gonzalez said.
“It wasn’t like jolting or anything, everyone just went quiet.”