Multiple law enforcement officials tell ABC News that investigators are exploring the possibility the two explosions in NY and NJ are linked to the same bomber or bombers by what appear to be similar types of cell phones.
The explosive device in New Jersey and the one that caused the blast in New York City were both set off with cell phones, according to two law enforcement officials who have been briefed on the case. The other, possible explosive device found near the blast site in New York City also had a cell phone connected to it.
Authorities cautioned that this is only a line of inquiry and not a conclusion. The probes remain “separate investigations,” the FBI and officials in New York said.
“Just because you have one thing in common, doesn’t mean the devices are similar,” one official told ABC News.
In fact, the explosive devices looked very different: the one used in New Jersey was pipe bombs and the one in New York was not.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a press conference Saturday that there was at that point no specific evidence linking the Saturday night blast in the city’s Chelsea neighborhood to the explosion earlier in the day in Seaside Park, New Jersey, at the site of a planned 5K charity run for military service members. But, he said, the possibility of a connection “will continue to be considered … [We] are not taking any options off the table.”
“We know there was a bombing,” in the city last night, the mayor said. “We will be very careful and patient to get to the full truth here.
“Was it a political motivation, a personal motivation? What was it? We do not know that yet,” de Blasio said
The New York City explosion, which injured at least 29 people, occurred on West 23rd Street around 8:30 p.m. in an area frequented by shoppers and diners. All of those injured have been released from hospitals, de Blasio said.
In the block-by-block search after the New York blast, two former state troopers found a possible secondary device a few blocks away on 27th Street, between Sixth and Seventh avenues, said James O’Neill, the city’s police commissioner. The second device, a pressure cooker, was in a white plastic bag with tape, wiring and a cell phone or other electronic device. It was sent to a center for the city’s bomb squad for examination.
“We have two separate crime scenes,” O’Neill said, adding that the FBI and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) are involved in the investigation.
O’Neill said officers have recovered video from both scenes and are continuing to canvas for witnesses and additional video.
Cuomo said evidence has been sent to FBI headquarters in Quantico, Virginia, for examination.
The governor added that while no international group had claimed responsibility for planting the explosive device, any bomb exploding in New York was terrorism “generically.”
“We’re not going to let them win,” Cuomo said. “We’re not going to let them instill fear.”
“Everything that needs to be done is being done and more,” Cuomo said.
Surveillance video from the site of the blast on West 23rd Street shows the explosion and indicates to investigators that an object containing the explosive device was intentionally left next to a construction trash container.
In one video obtained by police, a man is seen crossing the street in the vicinity of where the explosive device appears to have been left. The trash container was blown clear into the street by the force of the blast.
The New Jersey blast took place in Seaside Park on Saturday morning along the route of a planned 5K charity race to benefit U.S. Marines and sailors. Because of delays to the start of the run, the explosion occurred in an area without many people in it. The race was cancelled after the explosion.
The New York City explosion startled residents, and could be heard and felt blocks away.
Chelsea resident Michelle Leifer was walking her dog in Madison Square Park when she “heard a loud boom and felt rumbling,” she told ABC News. “I wasn’t sure if it was an explosion or if a large truck had gone by. One of the park’s maintenance men came in and said he got an alert on his phone that there was an explosion on 23rd and 6th. As I was leaving the park, I saw a smoke cloud hovering in that area. Then police cars and firetrucks started streaming in.”
Mayor de Blasio urged any witnesses or people who may have information to come forward.
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