Aircraft Part Was Found Behind 'Ground Zero Mosque' Building This Week

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Investigators on Saturday were searching the area around the World Trade Center, after a part believed to be from one of the planes in the 9-11 attacks was discovered in Lower Manhattan.

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As CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell reported, investigators were on the scene trying to determine how the wreckage got there, and if there is anything else to discover.

Police said the 5-foot-long by 3-foot-wide hunk of twisted metal was discovered wedged between the rear of 51 Park Place and the rear of the building behind it, 50 Murray St., in lower Manhattan. That area is the site of a controversial mosque and community center development, which is currently used as prayer space and hosts some community events.

The site is just two blocks from the 9-11 Memorial and World Trade Center site. It was fond wedged between two buildings in a crevice just 18 inches wide.

“You can’t say with authority what that part is, but the assumption is it’s part of a landing gear from one of the 9/11 aircraft,” NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said Friday.

Police sealed off the area, treating it like a crime scene. They said the metal has a serial number, and the name Boeing Aircraft.

“I used to work down at 99 Church St.,” one passerby said. They were finding pieces of the nose and landing gear in the streets, so there was debris all over here.”

For many New Yorkers, the discovery was a solemn reminder of the horrors the city endured during the 9-11 attacks.

“I’m sure they’re going to put it in a museum, so years and years from now people can remember what happened,” said Galina Covaliv of the West Side.

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But the focus now is to determine whether the debris contains any victims’ remains.

“I think it really is an historical artifact, and we want to make sure it doesn’t involve any human remains,” Kelly said.

Police were exploring the possibility that the part was purposely lowered into the space behind the Islamic Community Center.

But Kelly was leaning toward the likelihood that it fell there on Sept. 11, 2001.

“When you see how confined the space is and you realize the chaos that extended on this street it’s understandable — not that surprising,” Kelly said.

NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne told WCBS 880’s Wayne Cabot and Steve Scott that the space between the buildings is barely big enough for a person to navigate, as it is less than 2 feet wide.

The NYPD overnight was documenting it photographically and restricting access until the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner completes its health and safety evaluation protocol.

After that, a decision will be made concerning sifting the soil for possible human remains.

The aircraft part will not be removed until the process is completed, at which point it will secured by the NYPD property clerk.

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