SEASIDE PARK, NJ - An explosion occurred 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.
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.
Police, Ocean County Sheriff Officers and state and county law enforcement agencies are currently on the scene having shut off access to the borough and in particular the area of C and J streets on Central Avenue.
"We are staying here until we are asked to leave but we were told to go inside," Hogens said.
Former US Marine Jewff 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 Sherrif'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 goes on through the afternoon.
According to the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office, The Arson Unit is on scene and will be assisted by FBI, ATF and NJ State Police Bomb Squad.
"At this time the area is on lock down while bomb dogs search for additional devices," a press release from that office said. "There is a report of at least one other device which the NJSP will make safe. Please avoid the area."
The device was placed along the planned route for a Semper Five run scheduled for this morning, according to the release.
Police said the start of the run was delayed, which avoided a large number of runners in the area at the time the device exploded.
Bob Vosseller is a veteran journalist who has covered the shore area for many years.