Subway bomber wounds self, three victims in New York

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Law enforcement officials work following an explosion near New York's Times Square on Monday. (AP)
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Emergency vehicles at the scene
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Emergency vehicles at the scene
Updated 12 December 2017
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Subway bomber wounds self, three victims in New York

NEW YORK: A Bangladeshi man set off a homemade pipe bomb strapped to his body in a crowded New York City commuter hub during the morning rush hour on Monday, officials said, immediately calling it an attempted terrorist attack.
The suspect, Akayed Ullah, 27, was taken to a hospital after suffering burns from the explosive device, which was attached to his body with Velcro and zip ties and did not fully ignite, officials said. Investigators told Reuters they believe the attack in midtown Manhattan was intended to be a suicide bombing.
The blast, which occurred around 7 a.m. (1200 GMT) in a busy underground passageway between the subway station underneath the Port Authority Bus Terminal and the Times Square subway station, sent commuters fleeing for the exits and police officers rushing to the scene, as officials scrambled to reroute trains and shut down streets.
Three people, including a police officer, suffered minor injuries.
The attack came just six weeks after police say an Uzbek man, Sayfullo Saipov, plowed a truck through a crowd of pedestrians along a bike path in lower Manhattan, killing eight in an act for which Islamic State later claimed responsibility. In September 2016, a man injured 31 people when he set off a homemade bomb in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood.
In recent years, numerous people claiming to be inspired by Islamic State have carried out attacks across Europe, the Middle East and the United States.
A law enforcement official familiar with the Ullah investigation said investigators have found evidence that he watched Islamic State propaganda on the Internet.

’AMATEUR-LEVEL’
The weapon used in Monday’s attack was “amateur-level,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said at a news conference near the explosion site. He told CNN the homemade bomb may not have fully ignited, possibly limiting the damage.
Officials said the attempted bombing underscored New York City’s status as a target for such attacks, citing the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, which killed more than 2,750 people in New York and nearly 3,000 people in all, and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, which killed six people.
“Let’s be clear, as New Yorkers, our lives revolve around the subways,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference. “And let’s also be clear, this was an attempted terrorist attack.”
In a statement, President Donald Trump said the attack emphasized the need for US immigration reforms.
“America must fix its lax immigration system, which allows far too many dangerous, inadequately vetted people to access our country,” he said.
The president also criticized the visa program that allowed Ullah to enter the United States in 2011 because he had family members already in the country, saying such family visas are “incompatible with national security.”
Ullah lived with his mother, sister and two brothers in Brooklyn and was a green card holder, said Shameem Ahsan, consul general of Bangladesh in New York.
Authorities did not immediately comment on Ullah’s motives. When asked whether Ullah had claimed any connection to Islamic State, New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill said, “He did make statements but we’re not going to talk about that right now.”
Several US officials familiar with the investigation told Reuters there was no immediate information indicating Ullah was previously known to any American spy or law enforcement agency for any connection to militants or terrorism, though a connection could still be found.
Ullah is from the Bangladeshi city of Chittagong and is a US resident, said the country’s police chief. He had no criminal record there and last visited Bangladesh on Sept. 8, the chief said.
Ullah had a black cab/limousine driver’s license from 2012 to 2015, the New York Taxi and Limousine Commission said.
Monday’s incident was captured on security video, police said. Video posted on NYPost.com showed smoke and a man lying in a long tunnel that connects sections of the sprawling Times Square subway station. A photograph showed a man lying facedown, with tattered clothes and burns on his torso.

’EVERYBODY WAS SCARED’
The explosion turned a normal start to the work week into a chaotic scene.
“There was a stampede up the stairs to get out,” said one commuter, Diego Fernandez. “Everybody was scared and running and shouting.”
The bus terminal was temporarily closed, and a large swath of midtown Manhattan was closed to traffic. Subway travel was disrupted but later returned to normal.
In December, New York experiences a surge of visitors who come to see elaborate store window displays, the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree and Broadway shows.
More than 200,000 people use the Times Square station, the city’s busiest, each weekday, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Ten train lines stop at the station.
The bus terminal is the busiest in the United States, according to the Port Authority. On a typical weekday, about 220,000 passengers arrive or depart on more than 7,000 buses.
The bus terminal is adjacent to and above the subway station’s western section. A long, narrow underground tunnel connects that part of the station to its eastern section, and is used by thousands of commuters during rush hour.
The incident rippled through American financial markets, briefly weakening stock markets as they were starting trading for the week and giving a modest lift to safe-haven assets such as US Treasuries.
Technology and energy stocks closed higher Monday, helping Wall Street shake off uncertainties following the explosion.

 


4 dead in Waffle House shooting in southern US state; suspect sought

Updated 23 April 2018
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4 dead in Waffle House shooting in southern US state; suspect sought

NASHVILLE, US: A nearly naked gunman wearing only a green jacket and brandishing an assault rifle stormed a Waffle House restaurant in Nashville early Sunday, shooting four people to death before a customer rushed him and wrestled the weapon away.
Authorities were searching for the 29-year-old suspect, Travis Reinking, who they said drove to the busy restaurant and killed two people in the parking lot before entering and continuing to fire. When his AR-15 rifle either jammed or the clip was empty, the customer disarmed him in a scuffle.
Four people were also wounded before the gunman fled, throwing off his jacket.
Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson said there was no clear motive, though Reinking may have “mental issues.” He may still be armed, Anderson told a mid-afternoon news conference, because he was known to have owned a handgun that authorities have not recovered.
US Secret Service agents arrested Reinking last July for being in a restricted area near the White House, officials said. Special Agent Todd Hudson said Reinking was detained after refusing to leave the restricted area, saying he wanted to meet President Donald Trump.
State police in Illinois, where Reinking lived until last fall, subsequently revoked his state firearms card at the request of the FBI and four guns were then taken from him, including the AR-15 used in Sunday’s shooting as well as a handgun, authorities said.
Sheriff Robert Huston in Tazewell County, Illinois, said deputies allowed Reinking’s father to take possession of the guns on the promise that he would “keep the weapons secure and out of the possession of Travis.” Huston added that, based on past deputies’ encounters with Reinking, “there’s certainly evidence that there’s some sort of mental health issues involved.”
While Huston said it was unclear how Reinking reclaimed the guns, Nashville Police spokesman Don Aaron said that his father “has now acknowledged giving them back to his son.”
Phone calls to a number listed for the father, Jeffrey Reinking, went unanswered.
Meanwhile, authorities hailed the customer who intervened to stop a further bloodbath, 29-year-old James Shaw, Jr., as a hero — though the father of a 4-year-old girl demurred and said he was just trying to survive.
One hand bandaged, Shaw told reporters he first thought the gunshots fired around 3:25 a.m. were plates falling from a dishwashing station.
When he realized what was happening, he took cover behind a door as shots shattered windows. The gun either jammed or needed a new clip, and that’s when Shaw said he pounced after making up his mind that “he was going to have to work to kill me.”
Shaw said he was not a religious man, but “for a tenth of a second, something was with me to run through that door and get the gun from him.”
They cursed at each other as they scuffled, Shaw said, and he was able to grab the gun and toss it over a counter. The gunman then ran away into the dark of the working- and middle-class Antioch neighborhood of southeast Nashville.
Authorities said he shed his jacket nearby and police found two AR-15 magazines loaded with bullets in the pockets. He was seen walking, naked, on a road, officials said, but later was spotted wearing pants but no shirt after apparently returning to his apartment.
Another witness, Chuck Cordero, told The Tennessean newspaper he had stopped to get a cup of coffee and was outside the Waffle House when the chaos unfolded.
“He did not say anything,” Cordero said of the gunman, who he described as “all business.”
Cordero said Shaw saved lives. “There was plenty more people in that restaurant,” he said.
The dead were identified as 29-year-old restaurant worker Taurean C. Sanderlin, and restaurant patrons Joe R. Perez, 20, Akilah Dasilva, 23, and Deebony Groves, 21. A police statement said Sanderlin and Perez were killed outside the restaurant, Groves was fatally shot inside, and Dasilva was critically wounded inside and later died at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Aaron, the police spokesman, said two of the wounded were being treated for gunshot wounds at the medical center, where spokeswoman Jennifer Wetzel said one was in critical condition and the other was in critical but stable condition.
TriStar Southern Hills Medical Center spokeswoman Katie Radel in Nashville said two people were treated for minor injuries and released.
Aaron said Reinking had been employed in construction and lived near the restaurant, and police used yellow crime scene tape to block public access to an apartment complex about a half-mile from the Waffle House. Reinking is originally from Morton, Illinois.
“This is a very sad day for the Waffle House family,” the company said in a statement on Twitter. “We ask for everyone to keep the victims and their families in their thoughts and prayers.”
Nashville Mayor David Briley described the shooting as “a tragic day” for the city.
“My heart goes out to the families & friends of every person who was killed or wounded,” Briley said in an emailed statement. “I know all of their lives will be forever changed by this devastating crime.”
US Rep. Jim Cooper, whose district includes Nashville, said in an emailed statement that the shooting shows the need for tighter restrictions on “widespread civilian access to military-grade assault weapons.”
Nashville Chief Anderson said there was no Tennessee law that would have barred Reinking from having guns, though weapons could be taken away if the suspect had serious mental health issues. That would require taking him to court and having his rights taken away because of illness, a sometimes lengthy and difficult process, Anderson said.
Police reports filed in Illinois showed past run-ins with authorities there.
In May 2016, Tazewell County deputies were called to a CVS parking lot where Reinking told officers that Taylor Swift was stalking him and hacking his phone, and that his family was also involved, according to a report released Sunday. Reinking agreed to go to a local hospital for an evaluation after repeatedly resisting the request, the report said.
Another report from the sheriff’s office said Reinking barged into a community pool in Tremont, Illinois, last June and jumped into the water wearing a pink woman’s coat over his underwear. Investigators believed he had an AR-15 rifle in his car trunk, but it was never displayed. No charges were filed.