Times Square Investigation Leads to Connecticut - NBC New York

Times Square Investigation Leads to Connecticut

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    A surveillance video shot of the Nissan SUV in Times Square (right) before it was spotted by sharp-eyed vendors and police. The vehicle had Connecticut license plates.

    The rear license plate on an SUV found in Times Square on Saturday night with an explosive device inside was traced back to a Stratford, police said over the weekend.

    Investigators have spoken to the registered owner of an SUV used as a homemade car bomb in a failed terror attack in the heart of Times Square, police officials said Monday, but would not say what they learned.

    Paul Browne, the NYPD's deputy commissioner for public information, would not give further details on the owner. The 1993 dark-colored Nissan Pathfinder didn't have a clearly visible vehicle identification number but it was stamped on the engine and axle.

    Bridgeport police told the Connecticut Post, they are helping in the investigation and trying to determine if the SUV was owned or sold in the Bridgeport area. Whether the person investigators spoke to is in this state is not known.

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    A street vendor first noticed the vehicle with smoke coming from it on Saturday evening and notified a mounted police officer, who then called for assistance.

    A large portion of Times Square was evacuated while a police bomb squad investigated. 

    The SUV contained a crude concoction -- propane tanks, consumer-grade fireworks, containers filled with gasoline and clocks with batteries and electrical wiring, according to New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.

    A New York City Police spokesperson said it appeared the device began to detonate but malfunctioned.

    "We avoided what could have been a very deadly event," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.  "It certainly could have exploded and had a pretty big fire and a decent amount of explosive impact."

    Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitan said the incident was being treated as a potential terrorist attack.

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    Handbag seller Duane Jackson was one of the first people to notice the Nissan Pathfinder that later turned out to be a crude car-bomb in Times Square.
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    Attorney General Eric Holder said Monday that investigators have some good leads besides the videotape of the man. Holder said in remarks to reporters that it is too early to say whether the incident was of foreign or domestic origin or to designate it as a terrorist incident.

    Now, the hunt is on for a middle-aged man who was videotaped shedding his shirt near the sport utility vehicle where the bomb was found.

    Bloomberg, making the morning talk show rounds Monday, warned on NBC's "Today" that the person on the tape may not become a suspect. 

    Over the weekend, officials came to Connecticut to investigate.

    The FBI and New York Police officers were seen at Kramer's Used Auto Parts at 11 Old South Ave. in Stratford on Sunday, according to the Hartford Courant.  

    The FBI spoke with the owner of the pickup truck on Saturday night, but that person was not considered a suspect, according to a report in the New York Times. On Monday. officials said they had spoken to the registered owner of the SUV but would not identify that person or say whether that person is considered a suspect.

    "It is imperative that the suspect or suspects be apprehended swiftly," Gov. M. Jodi Rell said Sunday.  She said Connecticut's Department of Homeland Security and State Police were assisting federal authorities in the investigation.

    The FBI and New York Police were also investigating a 911 call made around 4 a.m. on Sunday, according to the Times. 

    The caller warned a dispatcher not to interrupt him and then said there would be a massive explosion soon and that the vehicle in Times Square was only meant as a diversion, the paper reported.

    It's still unclear if authorities believe there is a link between the SUV in Times Square and the caller.