City officials have confirmed that Monday morning’s explosion in Times Square was a terror-related attack.
“This was a terror attack in our subway,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a press conference on 42nd Street just before 10 a.m. “There was one individual who, thank God, was unsuccessful in his aims.”
The suspect, who NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill identified as 27-year-old Akayed Ullah of Brooklyn, detonated what was an “improvised low-tech explosive” device akin to a pipe bomb that was strapped to his body around 7:20 a.m., just as the morning rush hour was getting underway.
Ullah was taken into custody soon after the explosion, and he was taken to Bellevue Hospital to be treated for serious injuries.
Three bystanders in the vicinity of the explosion suffered non-life-threatening injuries, which included ringing ears and headaches, FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said, and are being treated at other area hospitals.
While information is very preliminary right now, officials believe Ullah acted alone. Authorities are currently investigating his Brooklyn apartment and other leads, they said.
O’Neill did confirm that Ullah made a statement before the device detonated, but when asked if it may have been in support of the Islamic State group, he said, “We’re not going to talk about that right now,” nor would he discuss his history or if he was known to authorities.
“It is very frightening and disturbing when you hear about a bomb in the subway station,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, calling it a “worst nightmare.” “But the reality is that we are a target by many who would like to make a statement against freedom.”
“We’re not going to allow them to disrupt us — that is exactly what they want and exactly what they’re not going to get,” the governor added.
True to that point, transit service, which was at a complete standstill for several hours following the explosion, was slowly returning as of 10:45 a.m., though all trains that run through the vicinity of Port Authority and Times Square are still bypassing 42 nd Street in both directions. Those trains include the 1, 2, 3, N, Q, R, W and 7.
Nearby streets, including a portion of the West Side Highway, remain closed.
MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota said that normal service should resume by the evening rush hour.
“Now, the mission is to secure all major transit hubs and sites,” de Blasio said, adding that New Yorkers can expect an “expanded NYPD presence today.”
“This is the most resilient place on Earth,” he said. “We’re going to keep being New Yorkers, let’s get back to work.”