FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 3, 2010
MAYOR MICHAEL R. BLOOMBERG UPDATES NEW YORKERS ON RESPONSE TO INCIDENT IN TIMES SQUARE
Below are the Mayor’s Remarks as Delivered in the South Bronx at the Administration’s 100,000th Unit of Affordable Housing
"Let me just start by updating you on the ongoing investigation of the attempted car bombing in Times Square.
"Police are reviewing a number of the videos taken in and around Times Square Saturday afternoon and there is, as you know, a video showing a man in Shubert Alley near the SUV parked on West 45th Street taking off an outer shirt and stuffing it into a bag as he leaves. Now he may or may not have been involved in this incident. It was a hot day; maybe he was just changing his shirt and this is Times Square, where we have the Naked Cowboy. But the police look at the all of the videos and anything that relates to it, or is not perfectly normal. We try to investigate and they're seeking more information about his actions and identity, and we certainly encourage him to come forward and cooperate with the investigation.
"Police have also obtained other video images of the SUV traveling along 45th Street at Times Square, and police have also met with a tourist from Pennsylvania who has a video that may or may not show the driver of the SUV. We're also interviewing the owner of the truck itself. Both of those investigations continue. I have nothing more to add about that. The investigations are continuing and Commissioner Kelly will certainly have a press conference this afternoon if and when there's more information.
"They will scrutinize the videos that we keep getting, images from 82 NYPD cameras in and near Times Square and from scores of privately owned cameras in the area. And that's just part of the investigation of what could have been, had it succeeded, a very serious explosion capable of doing a great deal of harm, even though I will say the fertilizer in the SUV, as determined by our Department of Environmental Protection, was a non-explosive kind.
"That investigation, like the initial response to the discovery of the SUV on Saturday, I think is a great example of the professional skill and close inter-agency cooperation we bring to bear on combating such incidents. We have by far the best counterterrorism intelligence division of any police department in the nation; some 1,000 of our police officers are involved in investigating and protecting New Yorkers from acts of terrorism.
"We have excellent working relations with the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, the CIA and the many other federal agencies whom are cooperating closely in this investigation. And when President Obama called me yesterday, he promised the federal government's full cooperation in this investigation. We have gotten that, but that's not a surprise because we've had great relations with Washington for a long time and we work very closely together. And, I might point out, all of the training that we continually do within each of our agencies in the City, and between agencies among them, I think showed its value the day before yesterday.
"I do want to also praise our first responders, including Officer Wayne Rhatigan, in particular for their alertful and skillful response to Saturday's incident. I took the police officer and his wife to dinner last night. I can report he had a steak and I had fish, and he and his wife seemed to have a very good time. A 19-year veteran of the NYPD, and somebody who's very proud of his work, and we have reason to be proud of him and the other 35,000 uniformed people, a total of 55,000 people, that work for the PD.
"We also did have two, at least two, vendors working the streets, one of whom I did a little bit of television with this morning, that work in Times Square and they were very helpful as well. And Desmond, I think his name is name is Devin Jackson this morning, couldn't have been a nicer guy. His family was there, and he was as proud as you could be to have helped contribute to making this city safe.
"And he did what you should do, if you see something say something. He brought it to the attention of the police officer. The police officer on his horse took one look, decided things were suspicious, called in reinforcements and got the police officers on the scene to immediately start keeping people away from the vehicle, and then they called the Fire Department, the Office of Emergency Management, and everybody cooperated.
"That response was the product of our commitment to keep New York safe from every threat, wherever it may arise, and while there is no evidence that this terrorist act was planned by any terrorist organization, we're just not ruling anything in or anything out, but speculation isn't something that we engage in. We want to know the facts, and when we obtain them, we will certainly put them out.
"We know that New York does remain a target for those who feel threatened by a free and open society and all that it represents, and that's why over the past eight years our agencies have trained constantly and rigorously on how to respond to possible terrorist incidents.
"And it's why also last fall we started working on the Midtown Manhattan Security Initiative, which is a network of cameras and other surveillance equipment that will cover the area from 30th to 60th Street, river to river, and that will greatly enhance our ability and the ability of the police to detect suspicious activity in real time, and disrupt possible attacks. It will also give police more evidence more quickly concerning incidents, and it will be incorporated with the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative, which is also being expanded.
"You should know that our city has committed more than $110 million to expanding the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative, and incorporating it with the Midtown Manhattan Security Initiative, and I commit to you we will spend whatever is necessary in either federal, or if need be City funds, to complete this project and to protect New York.
"Over the last eight years, we've also urged New Yorkers if you see something to say something, as I've said it. Lance Orton and Dwayne Jackson - I might have got his name wrong - Dwayne Jackson, were the two in Times Square that did exactly that, and that's what we hope that everybody will do, and I am hopeful that those who are responsible for this will be found.
"It's a sick and despicable act, but New Yorkers are going about their normal activities. Sunday, Times Square was as packed as it normally is. New Yorkers understand that the freedoms that we have in the United States are not freedoms that we're going to walk away from, and you can't let terrorists scare us away. We're not going to be scared, we're not going to be cowed, and as long as we have the best first responders and the cooperation we need from the federal government we are going to be a safe city and we're going to go about our lives normally.
"And while there is an increased police presence in Times Square today, I just want to assure everybody that things are okay so go take in the Broadway shows, go out to dinner, enjoy everything the city has to offer and I'll be happy to take a question about anything."