NYPD: Video has possible SUV bomb suspect in alley
Substance that resembled fertilizer found in the parked SUV
By TOM HAYS and DEEPTI HAJELA
NEW YORK – Police investigating a failed car bomb left in Times Square have videotape of a possible suspect shedding clothing in an alley and putting it in a bag and found a substance that resembled fertilizer in the parked SUV, Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Sunday.
The surveillance video shows a white man in his 40s taking off one shirt, revealing another underneath.
Kelly said officers were on their way to a Pennsylvania town to talk to a tourist who also might have recorded the suspect on his video camera.
The commissioner said there's no evidence that a Pakistani Taliban videotaped claim to the failed car bombing is valid.
Police found the SUV parked on one of the prime blocks for Broadway shows such as "The Lion King" on Saturday night. Thousands of tourists were cleared from the area for 10 hours. The bomb was dismantled, and no one was hurt.
The SUV contained three barbecue-grill-sized propane tanks, fireworks, two filled 5-gallon gasoline containers and two clocks with batteries, electrical wire and other components, police said. Timers were connected to a 16-ounce can filled with the fireworks, which were apparently intended to set the gas cans and propane afire, Kelly said.
"Clearly it was the intent of whoever did this to cause mayhem, to create casualties," Kelly said at a news conference at police headquarters. "It's just a sober reminder that New York is clearly a target of people who want to come here and do us harm."
"It wasn't an accident," he said. "It was somebody who brought this to the location to send a message to terrorize people in the area."
Police also found eight bags of an unknown substance in a gun locker that was in the smoking SUV, Kelly said. The substance "looks and feels" like fertilizer, he said, but tests were pending.
Kelly said surveillance video shows the vehicle entering the area at 6:28 p.m. Saturday, and a vendor pointed the SUV out to an officer about two minutes later, at the height of dinner hour before theatergoers head to Saturday night shows. He said the license plates on the SUV belong to a car that is being repaired in Connecticut.
"That was my first thought: Who sat this car here?" Jackson said Sunday.
Jackson said he looked in the car and saw keys in the ignition with 19 or 20 keys on a ring. He said he alerted a passing mounted police officer.
They were looking in the car "when the smoke started coming out and then we heard the little pop pop pop like firecrackers going out and that's when everybody scattered and ran back," he said.
"Now that I saw the propane tanks and the gasoline, what if that would have ignited?" Jackson said. "I'm less than 8 feet away from the car. We dodged a bullet here."
Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Cristian Salazar, Michael Kuchwara and AP Radio correspondent Julie Walker in New York, AP Washington bureau chief Ron Fournier, AP writers Eileen Sullivan, Pete Yost and Kimberly Dozier in Washington, Colleen Long in North Carolina and Robert H. Reid in Kabul.
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