July 4, 2016

Was that an IED in Central Park that blew off a young man's foot?

Commanding Officer of the NYPD Bomb Squad Mark Torre said:
"Clearly, I would say that this is somebody that had knowledge of chemistry.... This is clearly explosive material. But there's nothing to indicate that this was an explosive device that was placed or put in this area with a specific intent to harm any individuals."
NYPD Deputy Chief John O'Connell said:
"We do not have any evidence of a constructed device or commercial-grade fireworks. There are no specific, credible threats directed at New York or the July Fourth celebrations."

33 comments:

Jason said...

Who put that envelope underneath that garbage?

Rob said...

Mayor Bill de Blasio's first tweet on the subject read, "Dangerous incident in Central Park today. Fireworks are fun - but let's leave them to the professionals. Stay safe." Clueless.

Gahrie said...

there's nothing to indicate that this was an explosive device that was placed or put in this area with a specific intent to harm any individuals.

More importantly, is there anything to indicate that it wasn't placed on put there with any intent, specific or not, to harm any individuals?

The Drill SGT said...

I suspect there was no shrapnel, hence the thinking that it was not planned as a killing bomb, but some fulminate. perhaps of silver or mercury.

Quayle said...

Probably just an incident of sudden convergent [redacted]-made global warming.

coupe said...

There's a lot of bomb making stuff on the Internet now. I wouldn't ignore the possibility of someone inspired by terrorist groups practicing their craft.

I also venture to guess it was more than one person, and posting a reward would flush out a snitch rather quickly.

The Drill SGT said...

A fulminate paste smeared on rocks, then covered by another stone? let in dry and I would not get near it...

Robert Cook said...

I was in high school in the early 70s, (graduated 1973). I knew a kid in 11th grade--who is now a science teacher somewhere in Oregon--who talked about his experiences making little explosive devices for fun. It's always been easy enough for any bright and interested kid to learn how to make such explosives, and easy to see why a bright and interested teen would find it fun to set off little explosions that are his own handiwork. (This same kid was also a precociously talented cartoonist, his drawing and funny writing both at a high level of skill, and seemingly tossed off by him with little effort.)

Whether this device was left in Central Park with malicious intent or by accident won't be known until the person who left it comes forward or is discovered.

Abdul Abulbul Amir said...

If it's enough to blow off a foot, that suggests more than an experiment.

coupe said...

When I was about 12, I built my first bomb. What I could afford was two boxes of "caps". These were laid-out on a paper tape that you put through a cap gun.

What I found, was that if you used a needle, you could remove the gunpowder and, after a couple of boxes, you had enough to pack tightly into a roll of paper. It was a nice big blast, but I was more interested in rockets.

I found out that removing gunpowder from fire-crackers and packing it loosely, would make a rocket out of the Bic pen. This was much more fun, as each pen set a new altitude record.

I hadn't yet heard about 72 virgins, so none of my experiments inspired me as a way to martyr myself.

holdfast said...

Sounds like classic "toe popper". You could cause a lot of mayhem and strain on medical services with those.

John Henry said...

Cook and Coupe,

I too confess to bomb making in my early years. In the early 60s my cousin spent a summer with me. Exploring the attic one day we found a couple of old boxes of shotgun shells. We cut them open (DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME) and extracted the black powder. We made several very nice, and loud, explosive devices.

Anyone remember Jetex engines? They were small rocket motors, probably cost $1-2 at the local JJ Newberries. They ran on pellets that were about 1/2" diam by 3/4" long. They sold fues wire to light them off.

We played with the engines making rocket cars but then decided it would be more fun to see what havoc we could create with just the pellets.

Me and Jimmie had a great time that summer blowing stuff up and setting off improvised Molotov cocktails.

At that time you could also buy big these supersize "barnburner" wooden strike anywhere matches. We learned a bit about red and white phosphorus too. Neat stuff.

Kids just naturally like to blow things up so I would not be quick to discount this possibility here.

I do not say this is a good thing. We were 10-11 years old and as stupid as you would expect bored 10-11 year old boys to be. we are lucky we did not hurt ourselves beyond burned fingers. I do still have a small scar next to my Adams apple where a piece of shrapnel hit. We were seeing what would happen when you through a bunch of .22 blanks into a campfire.

John Henry

John Henry said...

Drill Sgt,

Re the mischief fulminate, two instances I know of:

In the novel Mr Roberts, Ensign Pulver is convinced that he should make some fulminate to wreak some havoc on the captain. He blows himself up and loses his eybrows.

In his bio of physicist Theodore Taylor, The Curve of Binding Energy, John McPhee relates that Taylor used to make fulminate (Don't remember what of) and place small amounts of it in keyholes of his high school classrooms. When the teacher would insert the key it would go off, startling the bejabbers out of the teacher. Apparently not enough to cause injury, though.

John Henry

The Drill SGT said...

I was a rocket scientist wannabe. Never planned to make a bomb bomb, but I did attempt to make a stronger rocket motor using an empty CO2 cartridge and filled it with a Potassium Chlorate blend. Fuzed it on an angle iron launcher. It went off with a bang, me about 30 foot away. The angle iron was flattened. never found any shrapnel. Dodged one then. Did ultimately win my HS Chemistry award though :)

Today, if the police found me, I would be a felon...

Michael K said...

"I found out that removing gunpowder from fire-crackers and packing it loosely, would make a rocket out of the Bic pen. This was much more fun, as each pen set a new altitude record."

I used to take the powder from my father's shotgun shells and make rockets the same way.

Another explosive was the carbide from miners' lamps that were pretty common in the early 40s. There were even jet boats that used bicarbonate and vinegar,

The Drill SGT said...

Michael K said...
I used to take the powder from my father's shotgun shells


ah. another almost California felon...

though 10 years before me :)

The Drill SGT said...

used to seal dry cleaning plastic bags, using a warm iron, through damp cloth.

opened a cap on the gas meter, fill them with natural gas, and launch them with payloads.

another possible felony today. :)

Diogenes of Sinope said...

Watch for more bombs....

To successfully formulate an explosive device takes knowledge of chemistry, explosives, engineering, bomb construction, explosives detonation, weapons design among other specialized skills and knowledge. It is inconceivable any person with this knowledge and these skills would accidentally or unknowingly have left this bomb. Clearly the intent was to maim or kill.

Robert Cook said...

@Diogenes of Sinope:

So far, the nature of the device has not been revealed. It could very well be a primitive device perfectly within the capabilities and knowledge available to any smart teenager to make, as several comments here confirm, and may have been just such a teenager's non-malevolently-intended fabrication.

Or, it could be something more.

FullMoon said...

Jesus ! A lot of dangerous MoFo's here. I thought Chuckie was our resident bad-ass :-)

Diogenes of Sinope said...

In today's world the effort to get the materials to build a bomb powerful enough to blow a person's foot off, would indicate a very high level of knowledge, effort and thought. This was not a firecracker.

Any teenager with the skills to build even a primitive device would know the dangers. This was not an accidental or casual effort.


Either the injured was the bomb builder and blow his own foot off or someone set up a booby trap.

John Henry said...

Things that go bang:

As a kid I had a carbide cannon. You could buy carbide powder in tubes, add a little water, release the trigger and KABOOM!!! Amazingly, I find you can still buy these and the powder on Amazon via Ann's Portal. (the advantage to buying through the portal is that Ann has to defend you if you blow something up)

Naturally we found the cannon and small amounts of powder tame after a while. We started seeing how much we could light off all at once.

I served on an ammunition ship. One of the welders once took a shoebox, wrapped it in duct tape, filled it with an acetylene/oxygen mix and touched it off. Made a helluva bang heard throughout the ship and scared the shit out of everyone.

A friend of my son's, in HS in the 80s, made a cannon out of a bunch of cans. HE cut the ends out of all but the last one and put a small hole in it. Then taped them together to make a tube. He would pour a couple drops of gasolene in then touch off it off with a match at the closed end. Made a very satisfying noise.

SEAL Team 2, (later 4) was stationed at Roosey Roads. I used to go diving with a couple of them, my advanced SCUBA instructor was their command master chief who was scared of boats and water. (After all he had been through in VN, he was entitled) The SEALs had an island about a mile from my house where they used to blow stuff up every day. It would literally rattle my dishes. They were just a bunch of overgrown kids who like to see stuff "blowed up real good"

And go places and do things that you don't even want to know about.

John Henry

The Drill SGT said...

John Henry

a good military maxim is that few operations fail due to too many troops or too much explosive.

when in doubt, add a bit more :)

The Drill SGT said...

(the advantage to buying through the portal is that Ann has to defend you if you blow something up)

Does that include when the cannon performs as intended, or does it have to fail in order to invoke the Althouse coverage plan?

FullMoon said...

Diogenes of Sinope said...

In today's world the effort to get the materials to build a bomb powerful enough to blow a person's foot off, would indicate a very high level of knowledge, effort and thought. This was not a firecracker.

Any teenager with the skills to build even a primitive device would know the dangers. This was not an accidental or casual effort.


Either the injured was the bomb builder and blow his own foot off or someone set up a booby trap.

I am of the opinion it was intentional. But also can easily imagine a kid making something that he expected would go "pop" and be funny, but instead goes "bang" and blows a foot off. In latter case, arrest expected as he would tell friends ahead of time, or more than one person involved.

Rusty said...

The Drill SGT said...
"used to seal dry cleaning plastic bags, using a warm iron, through damp cloth.

opened a cap on the gas meter, fill them with natural gas, and launch them with payloads.

another possible felony today. :)"

We'd fill trash bags with acetelene and light them. Blew some windows out of the shop building once.
We also used to scrape saltpeter off of brick building and make our own black powder. Not as good as the pure stuff, but it gave a satisfying bang.

HT said...

You can hear the explosion here.

http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2016/07/03/central-park-explosion/

(Scroll down till you see the man in a blue blazer and cap walking on the sidewalk with some policemen nearby)

Fabi said...

I used to take the spent CO2 cartridges from my air rifle and fill them with gun powder. Insert a waterproof fuse and seal -- very carefully -- with wax. Throw one of those in the creek and you'll get a cheap thrill!

gpm said...

High school class of '71 (45th reunion in Chicago in October). Brother Those, 0ur junior-year chemistry teacher, gave us the run of the chem lab after school. I can still remember his demonic look of joy when he took us outside during class to toss lumps of lithium and sodium into mud puddles in the parking lot.

We were pretty tame, but apparently adventurous compared to our predecessors (but not the little gangsters who followed us and purportedly used a black powder pipe bomb to blow up a fire hydrant in the "prairie" behind the school). Never really got beyond nitrogen triiodide on some door knobs. Talked about guncotton but, probably for the better, never did anything about it. Of course, it wasn't quite as easy as just looking things up on the Internet back then.

We did have "Madman" K****, who managed to blow off half of one of his hands the next summer. I had at least a good a claim on it as he did, but the Jesuits gave him the chemistry prize at graduation. Probably didn't help my case that I had an absolute lock on the math and Latin prizes. One of my buddies ended up as valedictorian because he could write and give a speech better than the rest of us.

--gpm

gpm said...

Brother Thole. Stupid spellcheck.

--gpm

Paul said...

Any of you guys remember in Vietnam the 'toe popers'? Mines that were non-metalic and impossible to find with metal detectors? Or in WW2 they had the Shu Mine 42 mine.

Maybe someone is experimenting along that line.

Remember folks, the Boston Marathon bombers used PRESSURE COOKERS. Homemade bombs.

Hope the nutjob is caught quick before he seeds the parks with dozens of these things.

Jeff Teal said...

Sparklers and thermite, anyone?

EDH said...

Question of the day: was terrorsim afoot?