FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 4, 2010
MAYOR MICHAEL R. BLOOMBERG UPDATES NEW YORKERS ON ARREST AND INVESTIGATION OF INCIDENT IN TIMES SQUARE
Below are the Mayor's Remarks as Delivered after He Met with Firefighters Who Responded to Saturday's Incident
“Welcome. We are joined here by Speaker Christine Quinn, Lance who I’m going to introduce in a minute, Sal Cassano the Commissioner of the Fire Department, and Chief Kilduff who is the highest ranking uniformed officer in the Fire Department. When the engines show up he’s the one that sends them, so be nice to him. We also have Steve Cassidy and Al Hagen from the UFA and UFOA. So welcome guys, see you back there.
“Let me start with an update on last night’s arrest. First, let me express my gratitude to the NYPD, the FBI, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents, and all of the other local, state, city, and federal authorities who played a role in identifying and apprehending Faisal Shahzad. They have been on the job around-the-clock since Saturday night, and the fact that they cracked the case so quickly I think is a testament to their professionalism and their patriotism, and the fact that they work so well together.
“But let me stress that this is an ongoing investigation. There is still plenty of work to do. But I have every confidence that the NYPD and FBI will fully unravel this case – and bring the guilty to justice.
“There will be a briefing in Washington at 1:00 PM, and Police Commissioner Kelly is on his way down there right now so it will be a chance for you to ask questions there or have one of your representatives ask questions.
“This was an act that was designed to kill innocent civilians and strike fear into the hearts of Americans. And I’m happy to say that it failed on both counts. We will not be intimidated by those who hate the freedoms that make this city and this country so great. The fact that so many people are out and about in Times Square today, where I just came from, really shows that.
“And I want to make clear that we will not tolerate any bias or backlash against Pakistani or Muslim New Yorkers. All of us live in this City and among any group there’s always a few bad apples, but the people who live in this city are proud of the fact that this is the city that gives everybody from every place in the world an opportunity, no matter what religion they practice, no matter where they or their parents came from. It’s the City where you can practice your religion and say what you want to say and be in charge of your own destiny, and we’re going to keep it that way. People from every corner of the world come and live here in the same buildings and the same neighborhoods, and that’s what makes this the greatest city on Earth.
“We will continue doing everything we possibly can to protect New Yorkers from terrorist attacks. We have, as you know, built the most comprehensive and sophisticated counter-terrorism operation of any local police force in the world. Every day, 1,000 of our best officers are performing counter-terrorism and intelligence duties and the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative is the most advanced and comprehensive security effort anyplace in the world, and we’re working to bring those same tools to the protection of Midtown.
“And I did want to thank Senators Schumer and Gillibrand for pledging to seek federal funding for the midtown security project, and it’s hard to imagine a better investment of Homeland Security dollars.
“We have to take every precaution, as you know, because we remain a prime target for terrorists. That’s something that all New Yorkers understand – and it’s something that we need Washington to understand, as well. We have a very strong partnership with the FBI through the Joint Terrorism Task Force, which for decades has been staffed jointly by the NYPD and the FBI. Dozens of our officers are working on that Task Force.
“Now so many agencies worked together to lead us to this day. The reason I came here was to personally thank the FDNY for the important role that they played. I came here today to meet the members of Engine Company 54, Ladder 4, and Battalion 9. And I would just like to point out near the front door, if you look on the walls, you will see a lot of brass plaques. This Fire Department has a custom that one year after somebody dies in the line of duty, they put up a brass plaque in memory of that person, but mainly I think to tell the young recruits that come into these fire houses that somebody has paid a terrible price but they are the role models for all of us. Those are people that put their lives in danger and unfortunately didn’t come out. And there were 15 from this house who lost their lives on 9/11. And I wanted to thank all of them, and you see some of the young ones here, for their deft and professional response to the car bombing in Times Square.
“I was able to shake hands with a lot of them at about two in the morning on Sunday morning. Members of this fire house responded when Police Officer Rhatigan saw a fire in the car and immediately notified his superiors that something was awry. The vehicle was parked haphazardly, the engine was running and the smoke emanating from the rear was white which is unusual for a vehicle fire. The fire officers on the scene then used thermal imaging cameras to detect the heat source, and once they saw that that the only heat was coming from the engine itself and the smoke had a different source, they worked hand-in-hand with the NYPD to evacuate the area and keep the public at a safe distance so the bomb squad could arrive and do its work. And then they stayed throughout the night to help secure the area.
“Our Bravest did exactly what they have been trained to do in such situations. They knew not to apply water or any other extinguishing agent. Their quick thinking and restraint preserved important evidence – evidence that could be very significant in the ongoing investigation of this act.
“Of course, this is not the first time that members of this firehouse have put themselves in harm’s way to protect us from a terrorist attack. I told you what they did on 9/11 and they stand ready no matter what the emergency is to go into danger when the rest of us react to our normal reactions and run away from danger.
“The losses this firehouse has suffered have only strengthened the resolve of its members to protect our city and its residents. Their bravery was on display again this past Saturday, and I think we all owe them a great debt of gratitude for demonstrating the extraordinary judgment that helped keep the public safe.
“In addition to the NYPD and the FDNY, I’d also like to express my thanks to the Office of Emergency Management and the Department of Environmental Protection for their work and cooperation in this matter.
“Two nights ago, as many of you reported, I had dinner with Officer Rhatigan and the NYPD Mounted Unit. He did not bring along his horse. And today I wanted to give a special thanks to Lance Orton, who is with us today. As you know, Lance is the person who first alerted us to a suspicious vehicle in Times Square. He was one of the vendors that sell merchandise there. Lance, you should know, served his country once before in the Vietnam War, and today he is looking out for his fellow Americans and fellow New Yorkers.
“He did exactly what I keep saying every New Yorker should do – he saw something and he said something. And his actions, along with the actions of our first responders, helped keep everyone safe. It is a good lesson for all of us. Nobody expects us to be professionals and fighting terrorism or fires or crime or anything else. We have professionals for that, but we all have eyes and ears and a brain, and we see something that just isn’t quite right, say something to a professional. Pick up the phone to 911. There’s always a firefighter or a fire truck stopped at the traffic light or a cop at the corner. There’s plenty of opportunities for you to call in those who are trained to deal with any of these situations.
“Lance, on behalf of all New Yorkers: Thank you very much, and I just wanted to on behalf of everybody to say thank you.”
Stu Loeser/Jason Post (212) 788-2958