Authorities: NYC footage shows person moving devices before blast

NEW YORK — Authorities investigating an explosion that injured 29 people said Sunday night that video surveillance shows what appears to be the same person moving devices into place at the site of the explosion on West 23rd Street and a few blocks north on West 27th Street. The second device did not detonate and was being analyzed by the FBI.

A federal law enforcement official, who was not authorized to comment publicly, said authorities had yet to identify the person involved, but a New York lawmaker posted on social media late Sunday that the FBI had taken "several individuals into custody" in Brooklyn who had a possible connection to the bombing.

State Sen. Marty Golden, who represents parts of Brooklyn, said on Instagram that the FBI had made the arrest on the Belt Parkway, underneath the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, which connects Brooklyn and Staten Island.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said Sunday that as a result of the Saturday-night blast, New Yorkers and visitors will see "a very substantial NYPD presence this week — bigger than ever."

The heightened alert comes both as a result of Saturday's explosion and because world leaders are gathering here Monday for the United Nations General Assembly. President Obama is expected to attend the annual meeting on Tuesday, the last of his eight-year tenure.

Obama arrived in New York late Sunday afternoon and attended a private fund-raising event for Hillary Clinton.

De Blasio and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo both said the explosion has no links so far to international terrorist groups, such as the Islamic State, though it's still early in the investigation.

The FBI was also investigating an apparent "lone wolf" terrorist knife attack at a Minnesota mall. Nine people were injured Saturday before an off-duty policeman killed the alleged attacker, a Somali-American. The Islamic State said early Sunday that the suspect was a "soldier" for the extremist group, the Associated Press reported.

In New York, De Blasio said a large police force this week will man subways, bus depots and other busy areas throughout the city.

Around 1,000 state police and National Guard troops will be dispatched to patrol the city, Cuomo said.

"When you see the amount of damage, we were really very lucky there were no fatalities," Cuomo said after touring the blast site on Sunday. "Whoever placed these bombs, we will find them, and they will be brought to justice. Period."

Saturday's explosion occurred just after 8:30 p.m. ET, at 133 W. 23rd St., between Sixth and Seventh Avenues. None of the injuries appeared to be life-threatening, the New York City Fire Department said. All those injured were released from area hospitals by Sunday morning, according to Cuomo's office.

De Blasio called the blast "a very serious incident," but echoed Cuomo's comment of no known connection yet to any organized terror group. "We have a lot more work to do to determine what type of motivation was behind this," he said. He urged New Yorkers to remain vigilant and asked for patience as investigators unravel more details about the incident.

Asked if the attack should be called terrorism, Cuomo told CNN, "Frankly, it's semantics." He added, "It was an intentional bombing. It was not accidental. It was criminal. It was violent. There was no apparent link at this time to any international terrorist organization. No national terrorist organization has taken credit for it and there was no apparent political purpose. There was also no apparent target besides the general populous."

New York City Police Commissioner James O'Neill said he reviewed one surveillance video, and investigators are reviewing more footage recovered from the scene. They're also talking to witnesses. He urged anyone with information to call 800-577-TIPS. Multiple tips have come in since the phone number was released Saturday night.

"We're in the middle of a very complex post-blast investigation," O'Neill said.

The explosion was from an apparent homemade device placed in the Chelsea neighborhood, in front of a residence for the blind and near a major thoroughfare crowded with restaurants.

A second device, believed to be a pressure cooker, was later found four blocks away on West 27th Street and was safely removed early Sunday, according to the New York Police Department. The pressure cooker was attached to wiring and a cellphone and had been placed inside a plastic bag, AP reported. The device was removed with a robot and rendered safe at a department firing range in the Bronx, a police spokesman said. It was being examined at the FBI Laboratory at Quantico, Va.

Cuomo said both devices were similar in design. Two pressure cookers had been used in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing that killed three people and injured more than 260.

The explosion that rocked the bustling Chelsea neighborhood appeared to have come from a construction toolbox in front of a building, AP reported. Photos from the scene show a twisted and crumpled black metal box.

Cuomo said there was "significant" damage to property around the blast site, and it was fortunate there weren't more casualties.

"There's glass everywhere, shrapnel everywhere," he said. He urged New Yorkers to return to work Monday without fear of further incidents.

"They want to make you afraid and worry about going into New York City or New York state," Cuomo said. "We’re not going to let them instill fear, because then they would win."

The FBI called the Minnesota mall attack "a potential act of terrorism," the St. Cloud (Minn.) Times reported. Nine people were injured by an attacker who was killed inside a Macy's store by an off-duty police officer. St. Cloud Police Chief William Blair Anderson said the victims were stabbed by a man dressed in a private security uniform.

Somali-American community members and the suspect's family identified him as Dahir Adan, a former student at St. Cloud State University who was working part-time as a private security officer.

An Islamic State news agency, Rasd, claimed early Sunday said the suspect was a "soldier" for the group, but it was not immediately clear if the extremist group had planned the attack or even knew about it beforehand. ISIL has encouraged so-called “lone wolf” attacks. It has also claimed past attacks that are not believed to have been planned by its central leadership.

St. Cloud Hospital officials on Sunday said five people were released and three were admitted with injuries that were not life-threatening. A ninth victim drove himself to a hospital in nearby Long Prairie, Minn.

New Yorkers awakened Sunday to find much of their Chelsea neighborhood still sealed off as a small army of investigators searched for evidence.

At daybreak, a hazmat team was still examining the scene of the blast at 135 W. 23rd St., next to the Selis Manor School for the Blind. Investigators also continued their search of the block of West 27th Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues, where the undetonated device was found.

Surveillance video that emerged Sunday shows people strolling down West 23rd Street, some with shopping bags, and cars stopped at a red light. Suddenly, a fireball lights up the sidewalk and smoke billows from the site as people run for safety.

De Blasio said there appeared to be no connection to Saturday's earlier incident in Seaside Heights, N.J., where a pipe bomb exploded near a Marine charity run. In that instance, the device was placed in a garbage can. No injuries were reported, and the run was canceled.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told Fox News Sunday that the bombing was “done intentionally to try to terrorize the people of New Jersey.”

In New York, witness Ramon Lopez said the explosion "felt like a building was coming down.”

Barbara Police, a blind 67-year-old who lives in the apartment building close to the explosion, said it left her terrified and helpless — due to blindness and other disabilities, she and many of her neighbors were unable to evacuate.

“Just remember how hard it is for the disabled,” she said. “We were sitting ducks and we knew it.”

The situation improved, however, once police and firefighters arrived. On Sunday, she said the police, in particular, had been “perfect gentlemen” throughout the ordeal, escorting her wherever she needed to go and sharing as much information as they were able.

“They're looking after us like brothers and sisters,” she said. “They're our guys, and I love them.”

USA TODAY


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