NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A Jersey City man was arrested in connection with a suspicious device found at the Port Authority Bus Terminal.
It all started around 5 p.m. Wednesday when authorities examined an unattended suitcase inside a deli in the terminal.
An explosive sniffing dog checked out the suitcase, and then Port Authority police opened it.
Inside, they found a knife, bolt cutters, screw drivers and a possible improvised explosive device they later identified as a “flash bang” grenade, Port Authority police said.
The Port Authority Police Department then started reviewing video from within the bus terminal to determine who left the suitcase behind.
The video led them to a suspect, who told them he was looking for his suitcase, sources said.
The man told police he had a bus ticket and was headed to Seattle, according to sources.
Arsenio Mason, 38, was arrested and charged with reckless endangerment, criminal possession of a weapon, possession of burglary tools and criminal possession of a controlled substance.
A judge on Thursdsay ordered Mason be held on $500,000 cash bail.
Mark Colon watched the situation unfold Wednesday.
“There was a lot of cops there. There was a lot of cops,” he told CBS2’s Jessica Moore. “(They were) searching around the deli, and they had bomb dogs, and they blocked certain areas.
“It was frightening. It was scary. A lot of anxiety kicked in, paranoia. So I just took off running.”
Mason has been arrested a total of 29 times in California, Washington and Alaska, sources said.
The device was rendered safe by the NYPD Bomb Squad, which determined that it contained a low-level explosive consistent with flash powder, sources said.
Investigators say it’s still unclear if Mason intended to detonate the grenade in New York City, or even at all. That was of little comfort to passengers CBS2 spoke with.
“I don’t think people are fully aware of the danger that this country is in,” said Vietnam veteran who did not want to appear on camera.
“I was shocked because you always hear about seeing people leaving bags,” said Deborah Fenker, of Chelsea. “I see them all the time, and I do usually say something. But there’s never anything in them.”
“If you fixate on it, it gets people scared,” said Mohammed Husnain, of Birmingham, England. “And the more scared people are, then the more likely it’ll happen again.”