Police Arrest Landlord in NJ Pizzeria Bomb Plot

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    NBCNewYork.com

    A building owner accused of placing a crude bomb in a pizzeria that had been rented by a man he'd fought over back rent was arrested Monday, police said.

    Milan Bolich Jr. was arrested in Jersey City on Monday evening.  The 54-year-old was charged with criminal attempted aggravated
    arson, risking widespread injury and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose.

    Authorities defused the primitive bomb inside the vacant pizzeria Monday morning, foiling what they described as a potentially deadly plot that could have wreaked devastation on a neighborhood that boasts panoramic views of Manhattan and is known
    as The Heights.

    There was no evidence the pizzeria bomb plot had terrorist undertones, police Chief Thomas Comey said.
    ``This appears to be an isolated incident that stems from this one location,'' he said.

    Police did not offer details on the dispute with the tenant, who occupied Willy Joes's pizzeria for about four months earlier this
    year. But neighbor Alberto Gonzalez, who worked at the pizzeria, said he helped the man, whom police did not identify, move
    pizza-making equipment out of the restaurant last week.       

    The parties had a court date Monday morning, Comey said. But that became a footnote after police and firefighters responded to
     the building for a report of a gas leak at about 5:30 a.m., entered through a back door and found the bomb.

    Police Deputy Chief Peter Nalbach called the bomb ``very rudimentary.'' He described it as a gas can rigged with a wire that
    was placed inside the pizzeria's front door, set up to detonate when someone opened the door.

    ``If you watched 'MacGyver' as a kid you could probably figure out how to do it,'' Nalbach said, referring to the 1980s
    action-adventure television show about a secret agent who uses household items and a Swiss Army knife to solve problems and get out of jams. ``But if it had gone off, there would have been major
    destruction.''

    A bomb squad member was seen removing a clear container holding an amber-colored liquid. Comey said the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was examining the container's contents.

    Property records name Bolich as the building's owner. A telephone listing for Bolich could not be found, and it was not
    known if he had retained an attorney. He did not comment as he was led away in police custody Monday night. A woman who neighbors said was his wife refused to comment.

    Police evacuated buildings along the block and closed the street for several hours Monday morning. By noon, traffic was allowed
     through and residents were back in their homes.

    Sonia Roman, whose ground-floor apartment opens onto a side street around the corner from the pizzeria, said she smelled a
     strong gas odor when she went out to get her newspaper and immediately called 911.

    ``It was a foul odor. It was nasty,'' she said. ``My alarm was going off, and I wasn't even cooking, so that got me thinking.''

    Roman said she walked around the corner and saw a wire sticking out from under the front door of the pizzeria.