NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A suspect has been arrested in connection with a series of bomb hoaxes that have put Staten Island neighborhoods on edge.
Omar Duran, 54, was taken into custody Wednesday afternoon at his workplace in Manhattan and was questioned at the 121st Precinct.
He’s believed to be responsible for at least three separate bomb hoaxes and possibly a total of four around Staten Island over the last two weeks, possibly as part of a strange plot to get another man in trouble, police told CBS 2’s Tracee Carrasco.
On Wednesday night Duran was charged with Placing a False Bomb in connection with an incident that occurred on September 2, he was also charged with Criminal Possession of a Weapon and Reckless Endangerment in connection with incidents that took place on September 12 and 14.
Homes were evacuated and neighbors were on edge Wednesday as police worked to connect the dots between the bomb hoaxes.
“It scares me to death,” resident Carolyn Clark said.
The latest device was found in Grymes Hill on Saturday — what police called a realistic looking bomb found in a backpack, along with a note, a name and an address. From surveillance video and their investigation, police believe the suspect may be infatuated with his married 32-year-old female neighbor. Her husband was named by the alleged suspect in the bizarre bombing hoaxes, possibly hoping to implicate him, Carrasco reported.
Police said they believe a similar device found in a backpack last Thursday on Brentwood Avenue in Randall Manor, where homes were evacuated, was also the work of the suspect.
“I think it’s a script from a Lifetime movie.” Jack O’Hanlon, a Randall Manor resident, told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond.
“I think the judge needs to deal very harshly with him,” said his wife, Roberta O’Hanlon. “I mean, a lot of lives were disrupted by that, and the police had to risk their lives to come and investigate. It’s no joke. There’s nothing funny about it.”
The devices were made using propane and gasoline but had no detonator, Diamond reported.
“It looked like a bomb. It was assembled like a bomb, and I said, ‘OK’ and called 911,” neighbor Sue Gunaratne said.
Neighbor’s told CBS 2’s Carrasco that the arrest came as a surprise.
“Especially when you’ve been reading it in the papers the last few days you’re like ‘oh my god’. I can’t believe this is happening so close. You don’t realize exactly how close it’s going on,” Ray Magnuski said.
Magnuski added that he wouldn’t expect this type of behavior out of the New Brighton man.
“Like, honestly he was one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet and it’s a little shocking right now,” he said.
Police also said that two other devices found on Staten Island on Sept. 2 and 3, respectively, could also have been part of the man’s scheme.
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