NJ Men Made Off With Backpack, Then Found Bomb Inside
Devices could have 'killed and maimed many, many people'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 19, 2016 5:20 AM CDT
Updated Sep 19, 2016 6:04 AM CDT
Bomb squad personnel stand around the scene of an explosion near the train station, early Monday, Sept 19, 2016, in Elizabeth, New Jersey. A suspicious device found Sunday night in a trash can near a...   (Jessica Remo/NJ Advance Media for NJ.com via AP)
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(Newser) – A bomb squad robot was destroyed and another had its arm blown off when one of five bombs found in a backpack near a New Jersey train station blew up early Monday. The FBI says the other four devices found will be encased in blastproof material and taken to the agency's headquarters for further investigation, the New York Times reports. The devices—which were discovered by two men who found the backpack on top of a garbage can outside a restaurant near the Elizabeth station—will be closely examined for evidence linking them to explosive devices found in New York City and elsewhere in New Jersey over the weekend. A round-up of coverage:

  • Elizabeth Mayor Christian Bollwage says the two men thought the backpack held something of value and carried it some distance before realizing it held explosive devices and calling police, NJ.com. He says in its original location near a pub, the devices could have caused carnage. "If that pub was crowded and there was a lot of people there, it could have severely injured, killed and maimed many, many people," the mayor says.

  • The AP reports that thousands of Amtrak and NJ Transit passengers were affected by the discovery of the device, with some stuck on trains for hours. Service has resumed but passengers in the area have been warned that they can expect delays Monday.
  • NBC New York reports that investigators believe surveillance video shows the same man at two locations where explosive devices were found in Manhattan. Police aren't sure whether there is a link between the New York devices and those found in New Jersey.
  • CNN reports that there is now an increased security presence in New York City not just because of the bombs, but because world leaders are gathering for the United Nations General Assembly.
  • A law enforcement source tells CBS that investigators believe cell phones were used as triggers for both the Manhattan blast—which NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo calls "obviously an act of terrorism"—and the device that exploded before a New Jersey race to benefit Marines and sailors early Saturday. It's not clear whether a trigger was found with the Elizabeth devices.
  • Bollwage says he's not sure his city was targeted. He suspects somebody may have just dumped the devices in Elizabeth, but he is "extremely concerned for everyone in the state and country where someone can just go and drop a backpack into a garbage can that has multiple explosives in it with no timers and then you have to wonder how many people could have been hurt."
  • An official close to the investigation tells Reuters that all the devices involved have been crude and the level of planning appears low—but some investigators fear this was just a test. "That's what worries us," he says. "Was this some kind of test run, not just of the devices, but also of the surveillance in New York and the response?"
(The FBI says it is questioning five people found in a "vehicle of interest.")