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08 December 2023

Man charged after New York scare over rice cookers


A young homeless man has been charged with placing false bombs, police said Saturday, after three empty rice cookers caused major commuter disruption in New York.

Larry K. Griffin II, 26, was arrested by the New York Police Department and charged with three counts of placing a false bomb, according to a statement released Saturday.

Parts of the city were alerted for two hours Friday morning as three suspicious objects were found: two near the World Trade Centre in the Fulton Street subway station, and one in the Chelsea district further north.

The station was quickly evacuated, service on two subway lines was suspended and trains on other lines serving Fulton Street bypassed the station.

All of the suspicious objects were ultimately determined to be empty rice cookers, each the same model, according to police.

Griffin is reportedly a former resident of Bruno, West Virginia, US media said.

West Virginia's Logan County Sheriff's office said he had a history of criminal activity.

Griffin had been arrested at least three times in the last eight years on charges such as possession of a controlled substance involving weapons, and use of obscene material to seduce a minor, the office said. He was indicted on the latter two charges.

There was also an active arrest warrant for failure to report, and for missing drug screens while on pre-trial bond supervision, the office said in a Facebook statement.

US media said Griffin's motive remained unknown.

Surveillance camera footage had shown a man taking two rice cookers out of a shopping cart and placing them at the Fulton Street station.

His cousin, Tara Brumfield, told local news station WSAZ3 that, "Little Larry's a good person. He's got issues but he don't ever mean no harm or anything."

In September 2016 a pressure cooker containing a homemade explosive device detonated in the Chelsea neighborhood, injuring 31 people and triggering panic in a city.

Since then, the US financial capital has been hit by two other incidents.

In October 2017, Uzbek man Sayfullo Saipov used a truck to run over cyclists and pedestrians on a bike path in Manhattan, killing eight people and injuring 12.

And in December 2017, Bangladeshi immigrant Akayed Ullah detonated a bomb in a subway tunnel near Times Square, leaving three people slightly injured.