Crime & Justice

1 suspect in custody, 4 injured after explosion at NYC subway

After an explosion a block away, police swarmed through Times Square in Midtown Manhattan.
After an explosion a block away, police swarmed through Times Square in Midtown Manhattan.
Amita Kelly/NPR

New York City police say the suspect in Monday morning's explosion at a subway station tunnel near Times Square was wearing an improvised explosive device and that he suffered burns after it was detonated. Three other people sustained minor injuries.

"It was an effectively low-tech device," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during a news conference hours later near the site of the blast, calling the news of an explosion "very disturbing."

New York City Police Department Commissioner James P. O'Neill identified the suspect as 27-year-old Akayed Ullah. O'Neill said the device detonated in a below-ground walkway connecting the stations at Times Square and the Port Authority. Ullah was found in the walkway, and the incident was captured on surveillance video.

"Preliminary investigation at the scene indicates this individual was wearing an improvised low-tech explosive device attached to his body," O'Neill said. "He intentionally detonated that device."

The incident forced the area to be closed to trains on some of New York City's most vital subway lines. Shortly before 11 a.m., the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority said that while the A, C, and E trains were still bypassing the 42nd Street Port Authority stop, a number of other trains — including the 1, 2, and 3 and the N, Q, and R, had resumed making station stops at the Times Square 42nd Street station.

The explosive device was based on a pipe bomb and was attached to the suspect's body with Velcro and zip ties, according to NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller. He said that bomb technicians and the FBI are examining the device to learn more about it.

Ullah suffered burns to his hands and abdomen and was taken into custody, according to the police commissioner. The suspect was transported to Bellevue Hospital.

"This was an attempted terrorist attack," New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said. "Thank God the perpetrator did not achieve his ultimate goals. Thank God our first responders were there so quickly, to address the situation."

The mayor added that "at this point in time, all we know of is one individual" carrying out what he called a failed attack. He said there was "no credible and specific threat directed at New York City right now."

Calling a bomb in a crowded subway "one of our worst nightmares," Cuomo said that the reality of what had occurred turned out to be better than what had been first feared. The injuries seem to have been minor, he said.

Ending his remarks, Cuomo said, "Let's go back to work. We're not going to allow them to disrupt us, that's exactly what they want. And that is exactly what they're not going to get."

New York City Fire Department Commissioner Daniel Nigro said the three other people injured were suffering from ringing in the ears and headaches, due to their proximity to the blast in an enclosed corridor. He said all three had taken themselves to nearby hospitals.

Police initially said the suspect was the only person injured when device detonated. But the New York City Fire Department later provided an update to confirm the additional injuries.

Around 7:20 a.m. ET, police said they responded to reports of a blast at 42nd Street and 8th Avenue in Midtown Manhattan.

After the explosion, subway trains were bypassing the Port Authority and adjacent Times Square stations, police said. The Port Authority bus terminal was temporarily closed and later reopened.

President Trump "has been briefed on the explosion in New York City," White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said via a tweet.

This is a breaking news story. As often happens in situations like these, some information reported early may turn out to be inaccurate. We'll move quickly to correct the record and we'll only point to the best information we have at the time.

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