A black plastic bag full of powerful military-grade C-4 plastic explosives sat inside a landmark East Village cemetery for more than a year before a volunteer, who happened upon them while cleaning up this weekend, called police yesterday, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said.
A caretaker at the Marble Cemetery on East Second Street, who first found the bag last May or June but didn’t report it, may not have understood its contents, Kelly said.
There were was no detonator found with the eight blocks of C-4, weighing 1.24 pounds each, so there was no way for the explosives to go off, Kelly noted. But the “potent” material — the same kind used in the 2005 terrorist bombings in London — could have packed a powerful kick. Each block was reportedly equivalent to 10 grenades and powerful enough to blow up a car.
The bomb squad was to analyze the material at a Bronx firing range as police continued to search the cemetery yesterday.
The explosives could have been “taken from a military installation years ago,” Kelly said. “It looks like it’s been there a significant period of time.”
Neighbors were perplexed. “Who would put a bomb in a graveyard?” asked Anthony Pepe, 74. “A Ukranian lady who lives on the corner said, ‘Maybe someone woke up.’”
Bizarre messages nearby
Kelly didn’t think the explosives were terrorism-related but was exploring a possible tie to a “rambling” note signed by “Jesus Christ” mentioning Second Street found tacked onto a police vehicle outside the neighborhood’s precinct yesterday.
Police were also investigating a sidewalk chalk message — “I really hope one of you finds this” — written near the cemetery, which is normally closed to the public but was accessible this weekend for Open House New York.