Commuters got a morning jolt Friday when police found three suspicious rice cookers along the 7th Ave. subway line and shut down a busy downtown subway station, creating panic and snarling rush-hour traffic.
Investigators now want to talk to Larry Griffin II, a West Virginia man believed to have dropped the empty rice cookers on the subway, said a police source. The cookers, which proved harmless but were suspected of being pressure cooker bombs, were left at the Fulton St. station near Williams St., which is adjacent to the Federal Reserve Bank.
The NYPD is looking to locate and identify this individual who’s wanted for questioning in regard to the suspicious items inside the Fulton Street subway station this morning in Lower Manhattan. Contact @NYPDTips at #800577TIPS with info — alert a cop or call 911 if you see him. pic.twitter.com/OFTJgPv2sw
Cops found a third rice cooker on W. 16th St. and Seventh Ave. near a pile of trash, but determined it also was not dangerous. They’re now investigating to see if the two discoveries were connected.
Griffin was caught on video going into the Fulton St. station carrying the rice cookers in a shopping cart. He placed one of the items on the ground in the mezzanine area, then went downstairs and left one by the 2/3 train platform, officials said.
In a brief telephone interview, Griffin’s father told the Daily News he’s spoken about the rice cookers with his son, who is homeless.
“Because of the timing, the placement and the items, we are investigating this as a hoax device,” said NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Counterterrorism and Intelligence John Miller. “That is the investigative category. We want to identify him, find him and talk to him.”
“There are people with shopping carts who pick things up and put them down on the street,” Miller said. “That’s a fact of urban life, but we need to find this individual and talk to him.”
“Mass transit is a global (terror) target,” Miller added.
The suspicious packages were found at about 7:30 a.m.
Within an hour, members of the NYPD Bomb Squad determined the items at Fulton St. weren’t dangerous. Cops scoured the station to look for more suspicious packages but didn’t find any, officials said. No injuries were reported.
Both nearby William and John Sts. were blanketed with police and shut down to pedestrians and vehicular traffic until about 10:15 a.m.
“Our @NYPDCT Bomb Squad has cleared the devices inside of Fulton Street subway station in Lower Manhattan,” NYPD Chief of Counterterrorism James Waters tweeted along with pictures of the pressure cookers. “They are T explosive devices.”
Our @NYPDCT Bomb Squad has cleared the devices inside of Fulton Street subway station in Lower Manhattan. They are T explosive devices.
“It turned out to be nothing, but, look, this is a frightening world we live in,” Cuomo said during an interview on CBS 880. “All of these situations have to be taken seriously because, God forbid, one day, it’s not.”
“Unfortunately we learned the hard way after 9/11 and we are prepared,” Cuomo said.
On Dec. 11, 2017, 27-year-old Akayed Ullah set off a pipe bomb in transit near the Port Authority Bus Terminal, injuring himself in the blast.
New York City’s subway crime through the decades
Mayor de Blasio urged New Yorkers to remain calm.
“I always caution people, when we’re a few hours into a situation, we should not draw too many conclusions,” he said. “Let the NYPD do its investigation, and we’ll know more as the day progresses, but, what we do know now is there’s no danger to the people of this city.”