Seaside Park Residents Have Many Unanswered Questions Following Pipe Bomb Explosion

SEASIDE PARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — All beaches have reopened in the Jersey Shore town where a pipe bomb exploded shortly before thousands of runners were to participate in a charity 5K race to benefit Marines and sailors.

No injuries were reported in the blast, which happened around 9:30 a.m. Saturday, when a device exploded inside a plastic garbage can at the corner of D Street and Ocean Avenue, authorities said.

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But officials won’t say if they believe the incident in Seaside Park on Saturday was terror-related or if it had any connection with an explosion that rocked Manhattan Saturday night, injuring 29 people.

CBS2’s Tracee Carrasco reported there are still many unanswered questions as residents are still uneasy.

“Yesterday, I was scared. I was absolutely scared that I locked my windows and I closed my doors for the first time in my living here,” said Donna Mason.

“I had a knot in my stomach all day yesterday,” said Joanne Zangara. “It was very scary to think we live on the next block and it happened right here.”

It was three pipe bombs tied together that blew the bottom of a trash can along Ocean Avenue and D Street at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, just a half-hour after an annual charity 5K run was supposed to start.

No one was hurt because the race was delayed by a huge crowd registering and by a suspicious backpack, or runners would have been right next to the explosion. Residents are wondering if this incident is connected to the Chelsea bombing.

“It kind of makes you think what’s connected. Is there going to be a third now, a fourth? It was just crazy,” Jean Tarricone said.

Investigators said they found similarities between the device here and the bomb that exploded in Chelsea, but are not linking the two events at this time. The devices in New Jersey and New York City both used cellphones as timers.

Special Agent Michael Whitaker, a spokesman for the FBI office in Newark, said state and federal investigators were still canvassing the Seaside Park area Sunday and conducting interviews. He also said travel restrictions imposed after the blast had been lifted.

Whitaker declined further comment, citing the ongoing investigation.

No injuries were reported in the explosion.

Speaking in an interview on CNN, Christie said law enforcement officials have some “promising leads” in the Seaside Park investigation, but have not officially named a suspect.

“You don’t want to jump to conclusions and you don’t want to put information out there that you don’t know is absolutely true. And so as I said, we have some promising leads,” Christie said. “We are working with the FBI and our state police to follow them.”

Christie went on to say that it was “fortunate” that no one was injured in the attack.

“But obviously, if you look at a number of these incidents, you can call them whatever you want, they are terrorism though. There is no doubt about that,” Christie continued. “They are terrorism. Now, who is responsible is something else and what the motive was is something else that hopefully we are going to find out in the days ahead.”

Nearby beach town of Belmar didn’t take any chances as there was increased security at the annual San Gennero festival.

“During yesterday evening, when we heard about what happened in Manhattan, was when our chief of police contacted me and made the recommendations due to public safety reasons to cancel today’s second day of the festival,” Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty said.

The police checked all the town’s garbage cans, and brought them in overnight.

“There was no threat towards Belmar or any of our businesses or residents or any of our events, but purely out of an abundance of caution,” Doherty said.

The FBI took over the investigation into a blast in Seaside Park on Saturday.

Anyone with information related to the explosion is being asked to call the New Jersey State Police Homeland Security Tipline at 1-866-4SAFENJ.

You can also call the FBI at 1-800-CALLFBI Option 1.

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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