Updated Sept. 19, 2016 3:25 a.m. ET
NEW YORK—Counterterrorism agents were combing through surveillance videos as they hunted for a bomb maker who set off an explosion in New York Saturday night that injured 29 people, putting the city on high alert.
Officials said they were trying to determine if the explosion in Manhattan, an unexploded device that was found four blocks away and a blast earlier in the day about 80 miles away in New Jersey were the work of the same individual or group.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (left) and Police Commissioner James O’Neill hold a news conference near the site of an explosion in the Chelsea section of Manhattan
Authorities on Sunday said they see similarities between the bombs—cellphones were used in three devices found—but that they hadn’t made a clear connection.
Early Monday, a suspicious device found in a trash can near a train station in Elizabeth, N.J., exploded as a bomb squad was attempting to disarm it with a robot officials said, according to the Associated Press.
The Manhattan explosion took place around 8:30 p.m. Saturday on West 23rd Street, near Sixth Avenue in the Chelsea neighborhood, shaking buildings, shattering windows and sending people scrambling for cover, authorities said.
“I’m concerned,” said New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill. “We did have a bomb that was detonated…and we have no one apprehended, so of course I’m concerned.” The explosion occurred on Mr. O’Neill’s second day on the job.
In New Jersey, Elizabeth Mayor Christian Bollwage said that the FBI was working to disarm one of five devices found in the same bag, which was discovered in a trash can by two men around 8:30 p.m. Sunday, near the Elizabeth train station on the Northeast Corridor rail line. There was no immediate report of injuries or damage.
NJ Transit service was suspended early Monday between Newark Liberty Airport and Elizabeth, and New Jersey-bound Amtrak trains were being held at New York Penn Station, officials told AP.
In Manhattan, a sweep of the area led to a second device about four blocks away. That device was left in plain sight in the middle of a residential block, officials said.
Investigators in New York determined that both bombs were made using pressure cookers that were filled with explosives and shrapnel, including ball bearings or metal BBs, and could be detonated using flip phones and Christmas lights, a law-enforcement official said. The devices are similar to those used in the Boston Marathon bombings.
The second device was considered to be the best lead, federal and local officials said. Authorities moved the device to a secure NYPD facility in the Bronx around 2:30 a.m. Sunday and authorities were able to successfully open it Sunday evening. Investigators have turned it over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for further testing, authorities said.
Doctors found that many of the those injured “showed signs of having been hit by such shrapnel,” one official said. All 29 of the people injured had been released from hospitals as of Sunday, authorities said.
The bomb on West 23rd Street was filled with small bearings or metal BBs, and the second bomb that remained intact four blocks away on West 27th Street had similar materials, the official said.
Authorities have identified a person of interest in the incident, someone they would like to speak with but weren’t treating as a suspect, a senior law-enforcement official said.
The man appears to be the same person who is in the “vicinity” in videos recovered from the scene of the explosion and four blocks away where police recovered the second bomb, the official said.
Investigators are treating the explosion as an “intentional act,” and while they hadn’t ruled out terrorism, they weren’t willing to label the explosion as a terrorist act until authorities had a better idea of a motive, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
“We know there was a bombing. We know it’s a very serious incident. But we have a lot more work to do to say what kind of motivation was behind this,” he said.
Meanwhile, FBI and NYPD investigators on Sunday night stopped a vehicle of interest being sought in the bombing investigation, an FBI spokeswoman said. Investigators were questioning the five occupants of the vehicle, but none had been arrested, officials said.
Federal and local authorities also were trying to determine any significance to the bombing location in Manhattan. Instead of seeking a crowded area, the bomb was detonated in front of an empty building under renovation.
Investigators have also recovered video, including footage that showed a large explosion, and were feverishly working to gather more video and field tips in hopes of identifying a suspect and witnesses. But investigators hadn’t singled out a suspect.
A senior law-enforcement official said at least one surveillance camera in the area captured a “huge explosion” that sent a trash container 200 feet across the street and west along 23rd Street.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio gave updates on Saturday’s explosion, acknowledging that the incident was a bombing. He and other officials weren’t willing to label the explosion as a terrorist act, saying more information was needed to understand what kind of motivation was behind the incident. Photo: Getty
“If you look at the extent of the blast, it was pretty big,” the official said.
The extent of damage to the area was “extensive,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. The New York City Fire Department examined the damaged buildings and determined they were safe.
The explosion came as the city prepared to host the United Nations General Assembly, an annual gathering of top leaders from around the world that historically has authorities in the city on high alert.
“You will see a very substantial NYPD presence this week, bigger than ever,” Mr. de Blasio said.
Speaking from the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump responded to the explosion that took place Saturday night in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood. Photo: AP
In the New Jersey blast, one of three pipe bombs exploded Saturday morning in a plastic garbage can in Seaside Park, shortly before thousands of runners were to participate in a 5K charity race. No one was injured.
— Mark Morales contributed to this article.
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FBI Detains 6 people in Connection to Chelsea Bombing
FBI agents arrested five men who may be connected to Saturday’s bombing in Chelsea after stopping their car in Brooklyn, sources said.
The men were heading over the Verrazano Bridge from Staten Island when they were stopped Sunday night.
Sources said the FBI suspected the men may have had a role in the bombing and were questioning them at the FBI headquarters in Manhattan.
It is believed the men, who live in New Jersey, were heading to the airport when they were busted.
Meanwhile, New Jersey Transit says service on the Northeast Corridor line has been suspended between Newark and Elizabeth because of police activity near Elizabeth.
A source said that at least one explosive device was found at the train station in Elizabeth.
Sunday’s bombing in New York left 29 injured when a small bomb went off on West 23rd Street. Another device was found on 27th street, but it did not explode.
Also, officials were investigating if the two New York bombs were connected to a bomb that went off at a charity road race in Seaside Park, NJ, that occurred on the same day.
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