SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ – Chief of Police Raymond Hayducka put out a statement to the community Sunday in the wake of what appears to be several bombing attacks here and in New York City.
“This weekend’s incidents in Seaside Park and New York City have justifiably raised concerns for many. I have heard from several community members with questions,” Chief Hayducka’s statement read. “We have been in regular contact with our county, State, and federal law enforcement partners to monitor the situation and impacts for our community. I ask all residents to stay vigilant both in our community and as you travel around the area. Do not hesitate to report unusual or suspicious activity. An alert community is our best resource.”
Chief Hayducka’s statement came the day after two incidents in Seaside Park in Ocean County and the Chelsea section of Manhattan on Saturday.
An explosion occurred around 9:30 a.m. Saturday just before a 5K race in Seaside Park to benefit a local U.S.Marine Corp soldier, causing the evacuation of the beach area and bringing a mass of police and law enforcement agencies to the scene Saturday.
Police, Ocean County Sheriff Officers and state and county law enforcement agencies were on the scene most of the day, having shut off access to the borough and in particular the area of C and J streets on Central Avenue.
Bob Johnson of North East Central Avenue and C Street, Seaside Park heard a loud noise just blocks away from his home around 8:30 this morning, His neighbor Dale Hodgens was walking her dog at the time and heard it as well.
"It was loud, then we learned that the explosion came from a garbage can along the run route of the Semper 5 K Run being held in town," Johnson said.
"We are staying here until we are asked to leave but we were told to go inside," Hodgens said.
Former US Marine Jeff Cordero and his wife who live on J and Central Avenue said he heard the loud noise from the small explosion that occurred where the running route for the morning event was to occur.
"A blue back pack was seen shortly afterward near the Saw Mill (bar) and we were all asked to leave the area. No one had claimed it and we don't know if anything dangerous was inside it," Lois Cordero said.
"Thank God the run was delayed or the runners would have passed the area where the trash can blew up," Lois Cordero added,
"This is something out of a bad movie," Jeff Cordero said pointing to a Sherriff’s Officer carrying a large rifle. "You don't expect anything like this to happen in sleepy little Seaside Park. I've lived here for years."
Jessica Sadowski of C Street took a photo of the damaged trash receptacle shortly after it exploded.
Like many residents on the scene, they were observing the influx of law enforcement officers from agencies around the county and state and the State Police helicopter that was buzzing around the borough near the command post between J and C Street on Central Avenue.
The activity caused the barrier island to reduce the amount of traffic coming in as the investigation went on through the afternoon.
Then, a second refuse container exploded on the west side of New York City Saturday night, about 12 hours after a pipe bomb detonated in Seaside Park.
Although city Mayor Bill de Blasio said during a press conference Saturday night there is no evidence, at his point, to link the explosions, the detonation in the city "is an intentional act."
He also said there is "no credible terrorist threat" to the city at this time.
According to the Fire Department of New York, a suspected Improvised Explosive Device (IED) exploded in a dumpster on W 23rd Street in the area of 6th and 7th avenues in Manhattan around 8:30 p.m.
Police Commissioner James O'Neill said that police officers from the 10th precinct witnessed the explosion as they patrolled the Chelsea section of the city.
He also said there is video of the explosion, and police are gathering more video from the area.
Police said more than 20 people were injured in that blast, one critically.
A second device, described as a pressure cooker with wires coming out of it, was found on 27th Street later in the evening, police said.
Police took that device away in the early hours of Sunday.
On Sunday evening, a suspicious package caused the Elizabeth train station to close, stranding commuters from the city.
Police and emergency responders’ shutdown train service at the main train station due to a suspicious package found under the nearby bridge Sunday night.
According to the Breaking News Network (BNN), the device was reported as a possible pipe bomb but has not been confirmed by police.
Police shut down businesses on N. Broad St and Broad St. and evacuating the area. The Union County police bomb squad had a robot operating at the scene.
Elizabeth Police, NJ Transit Police, and Union County Police were investigating with a Hazmat unit Sunday night into early Monday morning.
Commuters reported being stranded as the trains stopped running between Newark and Elizabeth while the investigation continued.
In downtown Princeton on Sunday, trash cans and newspaper boxes lining Nassau Boulevard were shrink-wrapped and smaller receptacles for trash and recycling with clear plastic bags were set next to them.
A police officer said that the measure was a normal protocol and not directly related to the prior day’s attacks.
Bob Vosseller, Charles W. Kim, Fran Sullivan and Kathy Lloyd contributed to this report.
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