A man with an extensive criminal record allegedly planted an explosive device at New York City’s bustling Port Authority Bus Terminal during rush hour on Wednesday.
The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey (PANYNJ) said several officers responded to a report of a suspicious bag at Deli Plus, an eatery inside the bus station, at 5:18 p.m. The deli caters to commuters in the south wing of the terminal’s main concourse, which is located one block from Times Square.
Arsenio Mason, 39, a resident of Jersey City, N.J., was arrested at 8 p.m. — roughly three hours after the officers first responded. He was charged with reckless endangerment, criminal possession of a weapon, possession of burglary tools and criminal possession of a controlled substance.
A K-9 unit inspected the bag, described as a suitcase, and officers brought it to a police desk within the transportation hub for further inspection. Upon opening the bag, police found a knife, bolt cutters, screwdrivers and a possible improvised explosive device (IED).
The New York Police Department (NYPD) Bomb Squad was called to the bus terminal to retrieve the device for further analysis, and it was later identified as a possible “flash bang grenade,” according to PANYNJ.
A law enforcement source told Yahoo News that — according to protocol — the bomb squad brought the device to Rodman’s Neck, a peninsula in the Bronx that extends into Long Island Sound, but did not detonate it.
The source described the device as a type of flash grenade that resembles a distraction device reload, which law enforcement commonly uses in tactical situations. It makes a loud bang, a bright flash and a surge of heat but does not split submunitions or eject fragments. It is meant to disorient a violent person during high-risk situations, such as hostage crises, to minimize risk to everyone involved. Still, it can result in serious injuries or death if handled improperly.
“He didn’t make a bomb,” the source said. “It looked like a cardboard tube with a fuse assembly and some black gunpowder. It’s some type of a stun grenade.”
Mason was apprehended when officers witnessed him returning to the site of the alleged bag drop.
“PAPD officers observed the suspect returning to the location to retrieve the bag, at which time he was detained for questioning and subsequently arrested,” PANYNJ director Steve Coleman told Yahoo News via email.
Mason was taken to Manhattan central booking and appeared in New York criminal court on Thursday. Public records show that he has a lengthy rap sheet, having been arrested many times for a variety of offenses, including theft and harassment, in Washington State, Alaska, Oregon and his home state of California.
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