NEW YORK (UPI) — Federal agents have arrested five men in connection with an explosion that rocked New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood Saturday night, injuring 29 people.
FBI agents arrested the men at around 9:30 p.m. on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in Brooklyn with a stockpile of weapons stashed in an SUV.
In N.J., three more pipe bombs and two smaller devices were found in Elizabeth, prompting authorities to shut down train service on a stretch of the Northeast Corridor.
It is not if the man identified in surveillance videos is on the men arrested.
The bombing has no specific links to international terrorism, but was terrorism nonetheless, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
“This is one of the nightmare scenarios,” he said at a Sunday news conference. A second suspicious device was found near the scene. “We really were very lucky there were no fatalities” The explosion, he said, was definitely meant to kill, the New York Times reported.
“A bomb exploding in New York is obviously an act of terrorism,” Cuomo said. “As governor of New York, this is my worst nightmare,” Newsday reported.
“Whoever did this, we will find and they will be brought to justice. Life will go on in NY as normal. We’re not going to let them win,” Cuomo said on Twitter.
Cuomo said the explosion was so strong it shattered windows up and down the block and sent metal shrapnel flying through the neighborhood.
He said because no group is taking credit, there is no reason to believe there are international terrorism links. “No international groups have put out statements taking credit,” he said.
Police are searching for details on what caused the explosion that sent diners and others pouring into the streets, CNN reported.
Investigators say it is likely the blast at 23rd Street and 6th Avenue in Manhattan about 8:30 p.m. Saturday was caused by a device left in or near a Dumpster. The second device found four blocks from the crowded sidewalk was a pressure cooker with dark wiring connected to a cell phone with silver duct tape.
“Whatever the cause, New Yorkers will not be intimidated,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said of the blast that came just days after the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks that rocked the city in 2001, the New York Times reported.
New York Police Department Chief of Special Operations Harry J. Wedin tweeted for people to avoid the area.
The FBI, Homeland Security and hundreds of other law enforcement officials were on the scene.
Police cut off some streets to traffic and mass transit as they continued to search for any other possible explosive devices into early Sunday morning. Using flashlights, trained dogs, and robots, they scoured the area, even calling in a heavy weapons unit for assistance.
New York City’s mayor said officials have not found any specific connection between the Saturday night blast and an earlier incident in New Jersey where an explosion occurred on the route of a Marine Corps charity run.
David Martinez and Brenda Abero, who were among the injured and taken to New York’s Bellevue Hospital, both said they felt lucky to be alive.
Martinez said he and Abero, who is pregnant, were driving through Chelsea when the explosion lifted their car off the ground, damaging its left side. Martinez had injuries to his head and leg. Abero and her unborn baby were not injured.
“I was driving a car and next thing you know I felt an explosion,” Martinez said. “I just blacked out, next thing I know I’m in an ambulance.” He sustained injuries to his head and leg and said he felt “a little traumatized. Thought I was close to not seeing my son again, that was the scariest part.”
Armed guards checked each ambulance bringing the injured to area hospitals.
In the aftermath of the explosion, police viewed a video that showed shattered windows and terrified people running and ducking.
Danilo Gabrielli, 50, of Chelsea, said the explosion was massive “It shook the entire apartment building.” He and others ran out to see what had happened: “People from my building and I were literally the first people there.” He said the scene was one of chaos.
“We smelled something, like an intense sulfur smell, and saw smoke coming out of this building. I saw pieces of metal — not large, but not small either. A few friends of mine saw glass there.” He said the entire neighborhood was scared.
“It’s a real quiet neighborhood, not like the center of the city or the Wall Street area. It’s tiny bars, where you go to grab a drink, grab a bite to eat, watch a film. We were worried.”
Another eyewitness said he was having dinner when the explosion occurred.
“[I] felt a loud explosion and I felt like a lightning bolt struck the building. It, like, shook the ground,” he told CNN affiliate NY1. “Everybody ran out of the restaurant into the street. The whole city was in the street.”
Some, on social media, said the sound of the explosion was heard as far away as Hoboken, N.J., which is across the Hudson River from Chelsea, an area filled with small bars and restaurants and known as an area inclusive of the gay community.
Police are continuing to search for witnesses and other video that may show how the event went down.