NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said he wished the FBI had notified New York City authorities sooner about the Boston bombing suspects alleged plot to come to the Big Apple and blow up explosives in Times Square.
The city was notified by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force on Wednesday night that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, and his older brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, planned to attack Times Square following the twin bombings at the Boston Marathon.
But Kelly said the FBI apparently learned of the suspects’ supposed plan at least 48 hours prior to telling the NYPD.
“There was a lag between when the information was gleamed and when we received it. I’m not 100 percent certain as to why that lag happened,” Kelly said. “But the fact of the matter is there was a lag, there was a 48-hour lag and I made statement that said initially, they wanted to come here to party. That information changed and put out information that was not the case, that they had made statements they were going to come to detonate a bomb.”
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev told interrogators from his hospital bed that he and his brother spontaneously decided the night of April 18 to drive to New York and launch an attack, Kelly said Thursday.
“The two brothers had at their disposal six improvised explosive devices,” Kelly said. “One was a pressure-cooker bomb similar to the two that had exploded at the marathon. The other five were pipe bombs.”
The potentially deadly scheme fell apart when the brothers realized the vehicle they had carjacked was low on gas.
When the Tsarnaev brothers stopped at a gas station on the outskirts of Boston, the carjacking victim they were holding hostage escaped and called police, Kelly said.
Later that night, police intercepted the brothers in a blazing gun battle that left Tamerlan Tsarnaev dead. Dzhokhar was discovered wounded and hiding in a boat in a suburban back yard the next day.
“We don’t know if we would have been able to stop the terrorists had they arrived here from Boston,” Bloomberg said. “We’re just thankful that we didn’t have to find out that answer.”
According to investigators, the carjacking victim speaks little to no English, but authorities pressed him to remember recognizable words from his exchange with the bombing suspects.
The suspects openly boasted to the victim in English about their role in last week’s bombing and carried out the rest of their exchange in Russian, CBS News senior correspondent John Miller reported.
The victim said, “The only word I recognized was Manhattan,” a word which “tripped a lot” of alarm for authorities, who quickly halted Amtrak service from Boston to New York and searched the trains, Miller said.
On Wednesday, Kelly said he was told the Tsarnaev brothers may have been intending to come to New York to party, or for a party sometime after the bombings.
“However, subsequent questioning of Dzhokhar revealed that he and his brother decided spontaneously on Times Square as a target,” Kelly said Thursday. “They discussed this while driving around in a Mercedes SUV that they hijacked after they shot and killed an MIT police officer.”
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.
NYC SHOW OF FORCE
On Friday afternoon, the NYPD conducted a show of force they call a “surge.”
Nearly two dozen marked police cars with light flashing streamed into Times Square.
Then a counterterrorism officer gave them their orders.
“Be cognizant. Don’t become complacent. Just continue to do your job and do your job effectively,” the officer said. “Drive carefully. Okay. Make sure your eyes and ears are open and you know exactly what’s going on. Anybody have any questions?”