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NYPD Seeks Man With Shopping Cart After 3 Rice Cookers in Manhattan Spark Rush-Hour Scare

Jonathan Dienst, Marc Santia, Andrew Siff and Jennifer Millman
Key Points
  • Authorities are looking to question a tall, thin white man seen pushing a shopping cart near the Fulton Street subway station, where two rice cookers were found Friday morning.
  • A third rice cooker was found next to a trash can in Chelsea, though an investigation is ongoing as to whether all are connected.
  • None of the three rice cookers were explosive devices, the NYPD said, after the string of discoveries sparked rush-hour fear in the heart of the city.
Police respond to suspicious devices in Fulton St. subway station in New York on Aug. 16th, 2019.
Photo: @_i_Ruben

Authorities are looking to question a tall, thin white man seen pushing a shopping cart near the Fulton Street subway station, where two rice cookers were found Friday morning.

A third rice cooker was found next to a trash can in Chelsea, though an investigation is ongoing as to whether all are connected. Authorities did say all three devices were the same make and model.

Police say they want to speak to the dark-haired man, thought to be in his 20s or 30s, who was seen dropping the rice cookers in the Fulton Street station. They described him as a person of interest, specifically refraining from calling him a "suspect," but said they wanted to speak to him because of the rush-hour timing and busy location where he appeared to leave the first two devices.

Authorities didn't link him to the third rice cooker. None of the three rice cookers were explosive devices, the NYPD said, after the string of discoveries sparked rush-hour fear in the heart of the city. All three devices were stainless steel, silver commerical-grade rice cookers with black handles; all three were empty.

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The NYPD gave the all clear on the third device, spotted near a trash can at West 16th Street and Seventh Avenue in Chelsea, around 9:20 a.m., about an hour after the department cleared two rice cookers found in separate locations within the Fulton Street subway station.

The third device was found seconds after the others had been deemed safe. Chopper 4 was over the intersection, which was completely taped off. An item that appeared to resemble another rice cooker was spotted on the ground next to the garbage; members of the bomb squad were at the scene.

The department's counter-terrorism unit had given the all clear at Fulton Street around 8:20 a.m. Friday, nearly an hour after law enforcement first converged on the station near the World Trade Center. Authorities said a subway rider alerted two transit officers on patrol in the station to one device. Cops responded and called in for additional resources. Then the second device was found.

NYPDCT Bomb Squad has cleared the devices inside of Fulton Street subway station in Lower Manhattan. They are NOT explosive devices.
Source: NYPD

The Fulton Street station, one of the city's busiest hubs, was evacuated as a precaution. Out of an abundance of caution, the NYPD says officers also searched nearby stations. There were no reports of injuries, but the morning commute was heavily disrupted for tens of thousands of subway riders. (Scroll to the bottom of this page for real-time transit updates from all your key sources.)

The MTA thanked straphangers for their patience, adding it was "so relieved" that the devices did not pose "an immediate risk to our customers."

In September 2016, a man, Ahmad Rahimi, left luggage with two pressure cooker bombs on 23rd and 27th streets in Chelsea. The one on 23rd Street exploded and injured nearly three dozen people, none of them seriously. The device on 27th Street never exploded -- police responded after a woman spotted it and called 911. Rahimi was captured days later after a gun battle with police in Linden, New Jersey. He was sentenced to multiple life terms last year.

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