NEW YORK ― City police captured an injured suspect in what they called a “terror-related incident” after a pipe bomb strapped to his body exploded in the transit system near Times Square during Monday’s morning rush hour.
The improvised, low-tech device was affixed to the bomber’s chest with Velcro and zip ties and left the suspect the most seriously hurt among four people who were treated, authorities said. The blast, about 7:15 a.m. in the subway near Eighth Avenue and 42nd Street, immediately plunged the commuter hub into chaos.
Police identified the suspect as Akayed Ullah, 27, and said he made a statement mentioning the so-called Islamic State. Ullah, who had burns on his hands and abdomen, and lacerations, triggered the bomb intentionally, authorities said. He was seized by police and taken to Bellevue Hospital for treatment. Media reports said Ullah is a Bangladesh national who had been living in Brooklyn.
Three other people were treated for minor injuries, including headaches and ringing in the ears, authorities said.
Police Commissioner James O’Neill called the explosion a “terror-related incident” during a mid-morning news conference. He declined to elaborate on Ullah’s statement.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo described the explosive as a “low-tech device,” which officials said was based on a pipe bomb.
Terrorists “yearn to attack New York City,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “All we know of is one individual who, thank God, was unsuccessful in his aims.”
The blast immediately sent the key transit hub into chaos. The A, C and E subway lines were evacuated, Sgt. Brendan Ryan told HuffPost, and the busy Port Authority bus terminal was cleared and temporarily shut down. Other trains bypassed Times Square and Port Authority stations.
The area where the explosion occurred is one of New York City’s busiest tourist and commuter zones. The Times Square-42nd Street/Port Authority station serves a dozen subway lines and a variety of local and regional bus lines.
Rosemary Usoh, 40, told HuffPost she was on the third floor of bus terminal around 7:15 a.m. when at least a dozen police officers with automatic weapons shouted for people to evacuate the building immediately.
“They yelled at us to get out, that there was an explosion,” Usoh said. “I was nervous. There were a lot of people running.”
Alicja Wlodkowski, 51, told The New York Times that she was in a restaurant inside the bus terminal building when the explosion occurred.
“A woman fell, and nobody even stopped to help her because it was so crazy,” Wlodkowski said. “Then it all slowed down. I was standing and watching and scared.”
Video shows emergency crews responding to the Port Authority bus terminal on 42nd Street. Police said the blast was in the subway system.
The Port Authority said the subway entrance outside the building on Eighth Avenue was closed “due to police activity.” The bus terminal building was evacuated and shut down for several hours. It reopened later in the morning, but the Port Authority warned bus commuters to “contact their carrier for the most current information.”
Police closed surrounding streets.
President Donald Trump reportedly was briefed.