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01 March 2024

Business as usual in Times Square as search for bomber continues

By Agencies

Police believe they may have found the bicycle that carried a hooded, solitary bomber to a high-profile target: a military recruiting center at the heart of Times Square.


But they have yet to close in on a suspect in Thursday’s pre-dawn attack, which damaged the landmark recruiting station but hurt no one.


As Times Square returned to business as usual on Friday, police released a photo of the bicycle, looked at dozens of security videotapes and scoured Times Square for possible witnesses.


“We’re doing the normal investigative steps that you would expect in a case like this,” New York Police Department Commissioner Raymond Kelly told CNN.


Among the videos were one showing a cyclist pedaling toward an area where the blue bicycle was found ditched in the trash, and another with someone walking away from that same spot on East 38th Street, police said. Along with the photo of the bicycle – a 10-speed in good condition – police on Friday released a surveillance-camera image from the same block, showing a hooded figure on a bike.


Witnesses to the explosion described seeing a hooded man on a bike acting suspiciously.


The bomb, contained in a metal ammunition box, produced a sudden flash and a billowing cloud of white smoke, prompting a full-scale emergency response.


The blast mirrored two previous small explosions at consulates in Manhattan. But authorities said there was no connection between the blast and letters sent to as many as 100 members of Congress bearing the words “Happy New Year, We Did It.”


Officials said the lengthy anti-war letters – sent to congressional offices with photos of a man standing in front of the recruiting office before it was damaged – contained no threats.


At Times Square on Friday, there were tourists snapping pictures, pedestrians bustling about – and a sense of firm resolve among the members of the military who were guarding the mangled recruiting station, located in the middle of a traffic island.


“The barricades were up around the whole island, and they were still asking about joining,” said Staff Sgt Ruben Vila.


The blast bears a striking similarity to the two consulate explosions.


In October, two small explosive devices were tossed over a fence at the Mexican Consulate, shattering some windows. Police said they believed someone on a bicycle threw the devices.


At the time, police said they were investigating whether the blast was connected to a nearly identical bombing at the British consulate on May 5, 2005. No one was arrested in either incident. (AP)