Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Times Square Bomb Scare

Last evening, at around 6:30PM, some dimwit parked a dark green Nissan Pathfinder on 45th Street between the Minskoff Theatre and Marriott Marquis Hotel early last evening in a failed attempt to detonate a crude car bomb. The identity of the individual, as well as his motive are at this time unknown.

It was at 6:34PM that one of the t-shirt vendors on that particular corner noticed there was smoke coming from the vehicle. He proceeded to tell one of the mounted officers in the vicinity. Officer Wayne Rattigan assessed the situation and took immediate action bringing in the FDNY and NYPD. In the backseat of this vehicle were suspicious items that turned out to include three propane tanks, two gasoline cans, consumer grade fireworks, two clocks with batteries, wire and what appeared to be an empty gun locker. The bomb squad was called in, and the robot was used to detonate the hood of the car and explore the interior contents.

It was a bit of chaos as the perpetually busy Times Square was forced to come to a halt due to the need for safety and security. Broadway shows were forced to hold their curtains while weighing whether or not they should cancel performances. People found themselves being removed from various restaurants in Times Square as police cordoned off the area between 44th & 46th Street, bringing the center of Manhattan into lock-down.

Because of the safety precautions there were folks unable to get back to their hotel rooms or make it to their shows on time. There were reports on twitter that certain shows, specifically The Lion King, which happens to be playing the Minskoff. It appears that all shows had a performance, though some took 30-45 minutes to get under way. Crowds started milling around the perimeter of the crime scene as tourists wondered when they could get back to their rooms, while the natives wanted to see what was up.

According to ATC poster "TheGuy," who was at the Saturday evening performance of Lend Me a Tenor, once the show ended the police retained the entire audience until they could figure out a safe way to get the audience out. In the meantime, the police also questioned theatregoers to see if anyone might have seen something pre-show. He elaborated in his post: "The police then led us, single file, through a back exit of the Music Box that leads to an alley behind the Richard Rodgers and into their exit alley. We all then had to go west to 46th street, where there were police barricades not letting people in but, thank goodness, letting us out!"

As the evening progressed and shows let out, more and more people began to show up on the street, possibly from the coverage on the local newscast. According to Tom Llamas, who was reporting for NBC4 New York, that it seemed as though 90-95% of the people didn't know what was going on. The police called for the perimeters to be expanded as the evening progressed, with a final block from 43rd to 48th Streets and 6th to 8th Avenue being blocked to all traffic. News sources started releasing unconfirmed information regarding the nature of the elements of the car.

Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Kelly had been in Washington, DC where they were attending the annual White House Correspondents Dinner. According to the reports throughout the evening, it was learned that Bloomberg, Kelly and President Obama were regularly briefed on the incident throughout the evening. As soon as the President finished speaking, Bloomberg and Kelly immediately returned to NY where they continued to be briefed. At approximately 2:15AM, they spoke in a press conference with other city officials and Governor Patterson in attendance - a mere block from where the incident took place.

Bloomberg answered what questions he could, but stressed that they hadn't a clue as to who did this and why. He recounted, in brief, what the Mayor's office knew in regards to the facts at hand. He said that the device was amateurish, and that the explosive elements had been contained by the NYPD bomb squad. He also said that they were going to be letting folks back into the area soon. More tourists who had flown in had taken to sleeping in the streets. The south tower of the Marriott was evacuated, and those residents of the hotel were staying in one of the auditoriums.

Kudos to the wonderful men and women of the NYPD, FDNY, etc who did a brilliant job of evacuating everyone, securing the area and keeping citizens safe (even if they hadn't a clue what was going on, or the gravity of the incident, as evidenced by a fleet of morons behind NBC's Tom Llama during live coverage). Everyone from the street vendor right on up to the Mayor were on their A-game. It's a miracle that not a single person was harmed throughout this whole ordeal. I know those displaced tourists are far from thrilled at the turn of events and the inconveniences. But it's something they're going to dine out on for years.

The Sunday matinee shows are expected to continue as scheduled, but if you have tickets you'd best check in to make sure everything will be going on as scheduled. It's a stroke of incredible luck that this attack failed, and it just goes to show you that sometimes a hokey catchphrase like "If you see something, say something" can do the world a lot of good. If you might have any information regarding the bomb scare, you are encouraged to call 1.800.577.TIPS.

Thank God everyone is safe.

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