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West Virginia Man Sought by NYPD After 3 Rice Cookers in Manhattan Spark Rush-Hour Scare

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Man Sought in NYC Rice Cookers Rush Hour Scare
The father of a West Virginia man sought for questioning in connection to placing rice cookers in Manhattan that sparked a rush-hour scare Friday morning has identified him as Larry Griffin. Adam Kuperstein reports. (Published Friday, Aug 16, 2019 ) The father of a West Virginia man sought for questioning in connection to placing rice cookers in... See More

The father of a West Virginia man sought for questioning in connection to placing rice cookers in Manhattan that sparked a rush-hour scare Friday morning has identified him as Larry Griffin. Adam Kuperstein reports.

(Published Friday, Aug 16, 2019)

What to Know

  • Authorities are looking to question a tall, thin white man seen pushing a shopping cart near the Fulton Street subway station Friday AM

  • Two rice cookers were found in the station, sparking a scare; just after those were deemed safe, a third was found on a Chelsea street

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

The father of a West Virginia man sought in connection to placing rice cookers in Manhattan that sparked a rush-hour scare Friday morning has identified him as Larry Griffin — a man with an apparent history of criminal activity.

A senior law enforcement official also confirmed to NBC 4 New York that Griffin was the person of interest.

Authorities have said they are 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 say they want 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 Chelsea

[NY] Chopper 4 Shows 3rd Device Next to Trash Can in Chelsea

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.

Trains resumed stopping at the station just before 10:30 a.m. (Scroll to the bottom of this page for real-time transit updates from all your key sources.)

NYPD Gives All-Clear on Fulton Street Devices

[NY] NYPD Gives All-Clear on Fulton Street Devices

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.