New York City explosion rocks Chelsea neighborhood

NEW YORK An explosion shook a New York City neighborhood Saturday night, leaving more than two dozen people injured.

The blast occurred on West 23rd Street in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood shortly after 8:30 p.m. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said it was too early to determine what caused the explosion, but early indications are that it was an “intentional act.” However, de Blasio said it there was no evidence of a terrorism connection as of late Saturday night.

Still, law enforcement sources told CBS News the Joint Terrorism Task Force is ramping up operations in New York.

NYPD commissioner James O’Neill, who just took over command of the police department Friday, said investigators have ruled out a natural gas explosion. Sources told CBS News the explosion occurred in a dumpster.

Twenty-nine people were hurt in the explosion, including one considered seriously injured, officials said.

“This is a very dense area, the whole block is restaurants and residences and this area on a warm Saturday night is an area swarming with people,” New York City Councilman Cory Johnson told 1010 WINS.

Johnson, who represents the area, said that FBI and federal Homeland Security officials were on the scene, in addition to New York City police.

The NYPD investigated a possible second device, confirmed to be a pressure cooker, on 27th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues. A bomb disposal robot was deployed at the scene and the device was safely removed for further analysis, police said.

Police investigated a third suspicious package on 28th Street and 5th Ave., but it turned out to be nothing dangerous.

Meanwhile, law enforcement was already reviewing surveillance video of the area where the explosion occurred looking for clues, CBS station WCBS reported.

The blast comes hours after a pipe bomb exploded in Seaside Park, New Jersey, shortly before thousands of runners participated in a charity 5K race to benefit Marines and sailors. De Blasio said there was no evidence at this point that the two incidents were connected.

Social media was quickly flooded with images and videos from the scene, including one purporting to show the moment the explosion occurred.

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.”

Rudy Alcide, a bouncer at Vanity Nightclub at 21st Street and 6th Avenue, said he, at first, thought something large had fallen.

“It was an extremely loud noise, everything was shaking, the windows were shaking, it was crazy,” he said. “It was extremely loud, almost like thunder, but louder.”

The White House said President Barack Obama has been apprised of the explosion in New York City and will be updated as additional information becomes available.

In St. Cloud, Minnesota, police said eight people were injured at a shopping mall Saturday evening in a stabbing attack. The suspect, who authorities said was dressed in a private security uniform and made references to Allah, was shot dead by an off-duty police officer on the scene.

Hillary Clinton says she has been briefed “about the bombings in New York and New Jersey and the attack in Minnesota.”

She says the nation needs to support its first responders and “pray for the victims.”

“We have to let this investigation unfold,” she said.

Donald Trump moved ahead of New York City officials when he declared a “bomb went off” in the city before officials had released details. He made the announcement minutes after stepping off his plane during a rally at an airport hangar in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

“I must tell you that just before I got off the plane a bomb went off in New York and nobody knows what’s going on,” Trump said.

He continued, “But boy we are living in a time — we better get very tough, folks. We better get very, very tough. It’s a terrible thing that’s going on in our world, in our country and we are going to get tough and smart and vigilant.”

The Republican presidential nominee made the comments around 9:10 p.m., shortly after the explosion and as emergency officials responded to the blast. The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment on whether he was briefed about the incident before taking the stage.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *