2008 Times Square bombing

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March 6, 2008, Times Square bombing
Times Square Bombing.jpg
The bomb shattered the window and door of the recruiting center
Location Times Square, New York City
Coordinates 40°45′24.73″N 73°59′10.28″W / 40.7568694°N 73.9861889°W / 40.7568694; -73.9861889Coordinates: 40°45′24.73″N 73°59′10.28″W / 40.7568694°N 73.9861889°W / 40.7568694; -73.9861889
Date March 6, 2008 (2008-03-06)
3:43 a.m (UTC-5)
Attack type
Bombing, attempted murder[citation needed]
Deaths 0
Non-fatal injuries
0
Perpetrator Unknown

On the morning of March 6, 2008, an unknown individual placed a small bomb in front of a United States Armed Forces recruiting station in Times Square, located in Midtown Manhattan in New York City. There were no injuries.[1] A security camera shows the bomber riding a bicycle as he approaches the station, dismounting the bike and planting the bomb, and then speeding off shortly before the blast.[1]

New York City police has yet to identify the bomber. Because of their similarities, investigators have suggested the bombing may be linked to two prior and one subsequent New York City bombings done in front of the Mexican Consulate in 2007, the British Consulate in 2005 [1] and an Upper East Side Starbucks in 2009;[2] however, upon the arrest of a suspect police now believe the Starbucks blast to be unrelated.[3]

A letter sent to Congress with the words "we did it" was originally thought to be connected to the bombing, but ended up being completely unrelated to the incident.[1] Investigators also initially suspected the bombing may be related to an incident on the Canada–United States border in February 2008. Pictures of Times Square and anarchist-type material were found in a car that was randomly stopped by the police.[4]

Incident[edit]

Media gathers after the bombing.

The bombing took place at around 3:43 a.m in front of a United States Armed Forces recruiting station in Times Square. A security camera mounted at 1501 Broadway shows an individual riding a bicycle eastbound on 38th Street and Madison Avenue. He headed toward the recruiting center, putting himself out of camera view. He then placed an improvised explosive device in front of the building, and left the area on a bicycle, reappearing on camera.

The bomber was seen riding a bicycle wearing a grey hooded jacket and a backpack, and was described as a "large" man.[5] Retired New York City detective Ray Pierce suggested he may be a bicycle messenger, noting the "comfortable" way he is seen riding his bicycle.[1] He also described the bomber as being a young, "frustrated" individual, who is trying to send a "confusing" message.[1] Because of the low-powered explosive and the attack coming in the early morning hours, Pierce has suggested that the bomber is more likely trying to send a message, rather than hurting anyone.[1]

Kelly described the bomb as "low-order explosive" and "not a particularly sophisticated device" contained in a military-style ammunition box.

Investigation[edit]

Bicycle[edit]

A 1980s blue 10-speed Ross bicycle was found by construction workers in a dumpster located on East 38th Street, a few blocks from the bombing.[1] Unaware of the bombing, several of the workers rode around on the bicycle, which made it harder for investigators to obtain fingerprints.[1] After they heard about the bombing, they turned the bicycle over to the police.[1] Investigators believed that the bicycle was the one used by the bomber.[6] Fingerprints lifted from the bicycle ended up having "no value" in figuring out the identity of the bomber.[7] New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly stated "I don't think anyone was seen leaving the bike". Investigators hoped that the public would be able to focus on the bike for up to a month after the bombing occurred.[7] The bicycle was manufactured and sold in the 1980s at a store called "Yonkers Cycle Center" located in Westchester County, New York.[7] The store has since been closed down and the owner has died. Investigators believed the bicycle may have recently changed owners, as one investigator stated "someone may have sold it at a yard sale".[7] Investigators believe the bicycle was stored indoors for most of the time.[7]

Letters[edit]

Hours after the bombing, Democratic Party members of Capitol Hill received letters that contained the words "Happy New Year, We did it" and a picture of a man standing in front of the Times Square recruiting center.[1] The letters also included a 64-page anti-Iraq War statement.[8][9] The letters were sent in 5 inch-by-8 inch manila envelopes with two $1 stamps and a white label.[10] Because each letter was numbered, investigators believed over 100 letters were mailed out.[9] Recipients of the letters were warned not to open them and to notify police.[9] Investigators originally believed the letters were connected with the bombing, but were proved to be completely unrelated to the incident and a coincidence.[9]

The letters were mailed by David Karnes, a Los Angeles area lawyer and anti-war protester.[11] After Karnes was questioned and his house was searched by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), his claim of not being connected with the bombing was proved to be valid.[11] He was actually trying to send an anti-Iraq War statement and advice for the Democrats on how to win the 2008 presidential election.[11] In an interview with the New York Times, David Karne's mother stated "I know when he said, ‘We did it,’ he was talking about the Democratic Party".[11] She also stated that the picture of the man standing in front of the Times Square recruiting center was David Karnes.[11] Investigators have said that the letters must have been sent weeks before the bombing occurred, since they went through the standard screening process, which can take up to a week or more.[9] A law enforcement officer referred to the letters as an "ugly coincidence".[12]

Possible connection to past incidents[edit]

Similarities to past bombings[edit]

Investigators have noted the similarities between the Times Square bombings and past bombings in New York. In 2005 an individual riding a bike threw a grenade in front of the British consulate. A similar incident occurred in front of the Mexican consulate, which also involved an individual throwing a grenade in front of the window. Like the Times Square bombing, both incidents took place in the early morning hours and involved a man riding a bicycle. Investigators have not linked the incidents.

Canada–U.S. border incident[edit]

After the bombing, investigators revisited an incident that occurred on the Canada–United States border.[13] In February 2008, four men attempted to cross the border into Canada from New York. While they were being questioned by Canadian border agents, one of the men fled from the car, getting away.[14] He left behind a backpack, inside of which pictures of New York City locations were found, including pictures of the Times Square recruiting center.[15] At the time of the incident U.S. authorities did not find any evidence of criminal activity.[14] Investigators have not linked the bombing to the border incident.[14] The men have been described as "anarchist types".[14] A U.S. government official has stated he strongly doubts a link between the border incident and bombing will be found, noting that the recruiting center is in a prominent location in Times Square and would most likely appear in pictures taken at Times Square.[16]

Response[edit]

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and Federal Bureau of Investigation officials appeared later in the morning in a joint news conference. Mayor Bloomberg denounced the attack and said that it "insults every one of our brave men and women in uniform stationed around the world.”[17]

John McCain’s presidential campaign released a statement after the bombing:

The attempted attack that happened in New York City this morning when someone tried to harm a recruiting station in Times Square is unacceptable in America. I know Mayor Bloomberg as well as other law enforcement agencies are actively working, and I have been assured a full investigation is taking place and hope they bring the individuals to justice as quickly as possible. We cannot allow this to happen to the men and women serving in our military whether they are at home or abroad.[18]

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton also commented on the bombing:

I am deeply concerned by the detonation of a small bomb at the military recruiting office in Times Square. While we should be grateful that there were no injuries and minimal damage, there is an ongoing investigation into whether the attack is linked to foreign terrorist groups, and federal, state, and city authorities should be given every resource and every tool to swiftly complete that investigation. Having worked with and supported our law enforcement and national security authorities in New York, I am confident that they will get the job done. Whatever else we learn about this attack, it is a reminder of the threats we continue to face at home and the importance of remaining vigilant.[19]

On June 18, 2013, the FBI released new video footage of the purported bomber, also announcing that a $65,000 reward would be given to anyone who could provide information leading to his identification, arrest and conviction.[20] The reward was increased to $115,000 in April 2015.[21]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Baker, Al (March 7, 2008). "In Times Square Blast, Echoes of Earlier Bombings". The New York Times. Retrieved May 31, 2008. 
  2. ^ Wulfhorst, Ellen (May 25, 2009). "Early morning blast damages Starbucks". Reuters. 
  3. ^ Edmund DeMarche, "Boast leads to arrest in N.Y. Starbucks bombing" CNN, July 15, 2009. Accessed July 23, 2009.
  4. ^ "Photo of Times Square bombing suspect released". CNN. March 8, 2008. Archived from the original on March 11, 2008. 
  5. ^ "Police investigating Times Square explosion". Newsday. March 6, 2008. Archived from the original on March 10, 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-31. 
  6. ^ Schram, Jamie; Mangan, Dan (March 10, 2008). "BOMB-BIKE CLUE". New York Post. Archived from the original on May 14, 2008. Retrieved June 10, 2008. 
  7. ^ a b c d e "Bike May Be Key to Times Square Bomb Case". New York Sun. April 3, 2008. Retrieved June 10, 2008. 
  8. ^ Karnes, David. "Media hounded". LA Times. Archived from the original on April 29, 2016. Retrieved April 29, 2016. 
  9. ^ a b c d e Gendar, Alison; El-Ghobashy, Tamer; McShane, Larry (March 7, 2008). "Police investigating letters about Times Square bombing sent to Capitol Hill". New York Daily News. Retrieved June 9, 2008. 
  10. ^ Hsu, Spencer S.; Branigin, William (March 7, 2008). "Letters to Lawmakers May Be Tied to N.Y. Bombing". The Washington Post. 
  11. ^ a b c d e Baker, Al (March 7, 2008). "Letter Writer Becomes Odd Footnote to Times Square Bombing". New York Times. Retrieved June 9, 2008. 
  12. ^ "Leads in Times Square bombing fizzle". CNN. March 7, 2008. Archived from the original on May 16, 2008. Retrieved June 9, 2008. 
  13. ^ "Times Square Bomber's Bike Found". ABC News. March 7, 2008. Retrieved June 11, 2008. 
  14. ^ "Police probe Canadian border link to Times Square bombing, reports say". CBC. March 7, 2008. Retrieved June 11, 2008. 
  15. ^ "Photo of Times Square bombing suspect released". CNN. March 8, 2008. Retrieved June 11, 2008. 
  16. ^ "Police release footage of Times Square bombing". USA Today. March 7, 2008. 
  17. ^ "McCain Statement on Times Square Explosion". March 7, 2008. Archived from the original on 2008-03-12. Retrieved June 9, 2008. 
  18. ^ "Clinton Statement on NYC's Times Square Explosion". March 7, 2008. Archived from the original on 2008-03-12. Retrieved June 9, 2008. 
  19. ^ Jerreat, Jessica (June 18, 2013). "The chilling moment terror struck Times Square: FBI releases previously unseen video of 2008 blast that shows 'bomber' fleeing the scene on a bike: Explosion linked to attacks on UK and Mexico embassies in New York, $65,000 reward to find 'serial bomber' using homemade devices". Daily Mail. Retrieved July 20, 2016. 
  20. ^ "FBI, NYPD offer $115K reward in unsolved 2008 Times Square bombing". CBS News. Associated Press. April 15, 2015. Retrieved July 18, 2016.