Bloomberg: New York City Was Next Target For Boston Bombing Suspects
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — They weren’t coming to party.
The NYPD said Thursday that the Boston Marathon bombing suspects were planning to come to New York City to detonate their remaining explosives in Times Square, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported.
It was a stunning development. Manhattan was the next stop and they were already on the way.
It turns out that when Police Commissioner Ray Kelly had started to step up security after the Boston Marathon bombing. It was more than just a precaution. The bombers were headed to “The Crossroads of the World” and they had an arsenal with them.
“New York was next on the list of targets,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.
“The two brothers had at their disposal six improvised explosive devices. One was a pressure cooker bomb, similar to the two that had exploded at the marathon. The other five were pipe bombs,” Kelly said.
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Kelly and Bloomberg grimly told New Yorkers of the plot. The suspects car-jacked the driver of a Mercedes and were heading our way, but the plan reportedly fell apart when they had to fill up the tank and, “They ordered the driver to stop at a nearby gas station,” Kelly said.
When they stopped for gas, the car-jacked driver reportedly escaped and called police. In the ensuing shootout with police the older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed. The new information was learned Wednesday from 19-year-old brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who talked to the FBI from his hospital bed on Sunday night.
“He told the FBI, apparently, that he and his brother had intended to drive to New York and detonate additional explosives in Time Square,” Bloomberg said.
Police now know that Dzhokhar was in Times Square twice last year, in April and November. Police have a picture of him and four friends in Times Square around the third week of April. Investigators are trying to question the four friends, who are in federal custody in Boston.
“We know that on or before April 18, 2012, they had their pictures taken. Some of the people in the picture have been identified. That part of the investigation is certainly going forward,” Kelly said.
Police are trying to find out what they know, who they talked to, and what, if anything, they know about potential terror plots here or elsewhere.
“The NYPD Intelligence Division is actively investigating to determine Dzhokhar’s movements in New York City, as well as who he may have been with here,” Kelly said.
Because the mayor and police commissioner stepped up security after the Boston Marathon, there were extra cops and equipment in Times Square, something New Yorkers who were in Times Square on Thursday said they were thankful for.
“We have all over here, all of these cameras here, watching this entire area. For the life of me I don’t understand how anybody would be able to come here and set off a bomb without alerting some kind of attention,” one man said.
“It’s kind of weird being a New Yorker, knowing that this is a very big spot for terrorists to target,” another man said.
However, CBS 2’s Kramer asked Police Commissioner Kelly what could have happened if the brothers got to Times Square undetected and carried out their plot.
“You look at what the bombs did in Boston and have to take that and obviously speculate what would happen in Times Square. At that hour there are a significant number of people in Times Square. There are clubs and bars operating,” Kelly said.
“We don’t know don’t if we would have been able to stop the terrorists if they arrived here from Boston. We’re just thankful we didn’t have to find out that answer,” Bloomberg added.
Governor Andrew Cuomo was informed of the Boston bombing suspects’ Times Square plot in the middle of a planned news conference at his Murray Hill office.
“Commissioner Kelly would be the first one to say — we talk about the new normal for society in a number of circumstances, a new normal from a policing point of view, from a security point of view — is you have to be constantly vigilant and constantly on guard,” Cuomo told reporters including WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb.
“We know this city and this state are a target and we have been in the past and we could potentially be in the future. So in some ways, yes, it’s troubling. In some ways, it’s not surprising,” said Cuomo.
When asked whether the city and state need more surveillance cameras, Cuomo deferred to local law enforcement.
The investigation is ongoing. The NYPD anti-terror detectives are working with the Boston Police Department, but they’re also pursuing leads here in New York State.
The mother of the bombing suspects spoke out on Thursday. Zubeidat Tsarnaev broke down in tears at a news conference in Russia, saying she doesn’t believe Dzhokhar confessed to the bombings, CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider reported.
“America took my kids away from me, only America,” Zubeidat Tsarnaev said. “He is not even writing yet. He is not even speaking yet, and they did not even question him.”
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