Why Wasn't The Elizabeth Bomb Moved Before It Was Detonated? The New York City Incident Was Different
The bomb scare affecting New York City and New Jersey over the weekend continued Sunday night when two homeless individuals looking through the garbage found yet more explosive devices in a backpack. When they noticed the pipes and wires, they left it on the ground and went to a local police station to report what they thought was a bomb. They were right. The good thing is that the device did not go off when the men were carrying it but later as the bomb squad intervened. But why didn't authorities move the bomb in Elizabeth before detonating it?
That's actually what authorities did in New York City when they found the second bomb just blocks from the Chelsea location. Still in one piece, police were able to load it into a "total containment vessel." As The New York Times describes it, the device is a "spherical chamber" attached to a police truck. It's designed to keep the effects of the bomb inside — the only thing that can leave is pressure through tiny vents, at no detriment to someone standing nearby. NYPD Lt. Mark Torre compared it to a diving vessel in an interview with the Times. "Instead of keeping the pressure out and keeping you alive in five fathoms of water, it keeps the pressure in," he said.
Why they didn't attempt the same thing in New Jersey is unclear, but it could be there was no total containment vessel on hand. The Times reported they've grown in popularity at police departments across the country, but that's no guarantee there was one in Elizabeth. According to Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage, the FBI Bomb Squad that reported to the scene sent in a robot to inspect. Here's what he told CNN:
The robots that went in to disarm it, cut a wire and it exploded. I know there are other devices, I don't know what they're made up of but they're going to have to be removed.
The explosion occurred just after midnight. There were five total explosive devices in the bag; three were pipe bombs and two were smaller. NJ.com reported that as of 5 a.m. no other explosions had been heard, but the initial blast was upsetting to some in the area. Witness Dean Fage told The New York Times that he was walking by when the blast occurred:
People were screaming; a woman yelled, "What the hell was that?” I felt it in my chest. I thought when they find bombs they take them and detonate them somewhere else.
Train travel on the nearby track was halted; both Amtrak and New Jersey Transit apologized to riders for the disruption and said service would resume when it's safe. It's still not confirmed whether these latest explosive devices are connected to the pressure cooker bombing in the Chelsea neighborhood Saturday night or the pipe bombs that were placed along a charity race route in Seaside Park, New Jersey, early Saturday. However, WABC in New York has reported that authorities expect as much.
Elizabeth is also the last known address of the suspect that was named in the Chelsea bombing, Ahmad Khan Rahami. Rahami is wanted for questioning and is considered armed and dangerous, according to the FBI wanted poster that was released Monday morning. His whereabouts are unknown, but police have searched the Elizabeth home that he lives in — or used to live in. He's also thought to be the man seen on surveillance video at the scene of the Chelsea bombing.