Man Charged After 3 Rice Cookers in Manhattan Spark Rush-Hour Scare - NBC New York

Man Charged After 3 Rice Cookers in Manhattan Spark Rush-Hour Scare

A report of the first two items at the Fulton Street station came in around 7:30 a.m. Friday; the all clear was given around 8:20 a.m., which is when the third device was found

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    Police Questioning Man in NYC Rice Cookers Scare

    Authorities are questioning a man believed to be the person who left two rice cookers at a Manhattan subway station Friday. George Spencer reports.

    (Published Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019)

    What to Know

    • Authorities have charged a man believed to be the person who left two rice cookers at a Manhattan subway station Friday

    • The empty cookers sparked a scare; just after those were deemed safe, a third was found on a Chelsea street

    • No injuries were reported; the morning commute was heavily disrupted for tens of thousands of subway riders

    The man who allegedly placed rice cookers in a Manhattan subway station, sparking a rush-hour scare Friday morning, has been arrested, the NYPD said Saturday.

    Larry Griffin, whose father says has an apparent history of criminal activity, was charged with three counts of placing a false bomb, hours after police took him into custody for questioning. He is thought to be homeless.

    According to a source familiar with the investigation, a 911 call just after 1 a.m. Saturday for two people in need of assistance led them to someone believed to be Griffin. He was conscious and taken to Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx, where officials planned to question him.

    A cart believed to belong to him was recovered at the location, according to a second source familiar with the case.

    Authorities had said they were looking to question Griffin — a tall, thin white man who was seen pushing a shopping cart near the Fulton Street subway station where two rice cookers were found Friday morning.

    A third rice cooker was found next to a trash can in Chelsea, though an investigation is ongoing as to whether all are connected. Authorities did say all three devices were the same make and model. 

    Police wanted to speak to the dark-haired Griffin, thought to be in his 20s or 30s, who was seen dropping the rice cookers in the Fulton Street station. They described him as a person of interest, specifically refraining from calling him a "suspect," but said they wanted to speak to him because of the rush-hour timing and busy location where he appeared to leave the first two devices. 

    Police released surveillance images of him, which you can see below. 

    Photo credit: NYPD

    Acccording to Larry Griffin, Sr., he has not seen his son in a while, although he calls him occassionally.

    When asked if his son was working, Larry Griffin Sr. told NBC 4 New York his son was panhandling in New York. A law enforcement official said Griffin was arrested several weeks ago in Harlem on a drug possession charge.

    The Logan County Sheriff's Department, in West Virginia, says they were contacted by the FBI concerning Griffin.

    Aside from him being considered a person of interest in the rice cookers scare and his legal troubles in NYC, Logan County officials say Griffin has a history of criminal activity and was arrested at least three times within the past eight years, with charges stemming from possession of a controlled substance involving weapons to the use of obscene material to seduce a minor.

    Police in West Virginia say the younger Griffin also has an active warrant for his arrest for failure to report and for missing drug screens as part of his pre-trial bond supervision after being indicted by the Logan County Sheriff’s Department in 2017 for the charges of using obscene matter with intent to seduce minor and the distribution and display to minor of obscene matter.

    The NYPD gave the all clear on the third device, spotted near a trash can at West 16th Street and Seventh Avenue in Chelsea, around 9:20 a.m., about an hour after the department cleared two rice cookers found in separate locations within the Fulton Street subway station.

    Chopper 4 Shows 3rd Device Next to Trash Can in ChelseaChopper 4 Shows 3rd Device Next to Trash Can in Chelsea

    Chopper 4 was over the intersection, which was completely taped off. An item that appeared to resemble another pressure or rice cooker was spotted on the ground next to the garbage.

    (Published Friday, Aug. 16, 2019)

    The third device was found seconds after the others had been deemed safe. Chopper 4 was over the intersection, which was completely taped off. An item that appeared to resemble another rice cooker was spotted on the ground next to the garbage; members of the bomb squad were at the scene. 

    Authorities didn't link Griffin to the third rice cooker. None of the three rice cookers were explosive devices, the NYPD said, after the string of discoveries sparked rush-hour fear in the heart of the city. All three devices were stainless steel, silver commerical-grade rice cookers with black handles; all three were empty.

    The department's counter-terrorism unit had given the all clear at Fulton Street around 8:20 a.m. Friday, nearly an hour after law enforcement first converged on the station near the World Trade Center. Authorities said a subway rider alerted two transit officers on patrol in the station to one device. Cops responded and called in for additional resources. Then the second device was found. 

    The NYPD Bomb Squad investigated - and then cleared - these devices found August 16 at the Fulton Street subway station.
    Photo credit: @NYPDCT / Twitter

    The Fulton Street station, one of the city's busiest hubs, was evacuated as a precaution. Out of an abundance of caution, the NYPD says officers also searched nearby stations. There were no reports of injuries, but the morning commute was heavily disrupted for tens of thousands of subway riders.

    NYPD Gives All-Clear on Fulton Street DevicesNYPD Gives All-Clear on Fulton Street Devices

    The rice cookers or pressure cookers were found during the Friday commute.
    (Published Friday, Aug. 16, 2019)

    The MTA thanked straphangers for their patience, adding it was "so relieved" that the devices did not pose "an immediate risk to our customers."

    Mayor de Blasio addressed the rice cookers during his regular WNYC radio segment Friday, saying, "We want to take these situations carefully and very, very seriously and act carefully on them. And this is the classic if you see something say something."

    In September 2016, a man, Ahmad Rahimi, left luggage with two pressure cooker bombs on 23rd and 27th streets in Chelsea. The one on 23rd Street exploded and injured nearly three dozen people, none of them seriously. The device on 27th Street never exploded -- police responded after a woman spotted it and called 911. Rahimi was captured days later after a gun battle with police in Linden, New Jersey. He was sentenced to multiple life terms last year. 

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