Packages cause problems near Times Square

NYPD Bomb Squad investigates a cooler at 46th and Broadway near Times Square on Friday, May 7, 2010.

May 7, 2010 10:20:02 PM PDT
Parts of Times Square came to a halt twice on Friday as police investigated suspicious packages.

One suspicious package was a cooler under a table in the pedestrian mall in front of the Marriott Marquis at 46th Street and Broadway. The hotel was not evacuated.

The NYPD Bomb Squad arrived on the scene shortly after 1:30 p.m. and discovered water bottles and books when they opened it.

No buildings were evacuated, but a number of streets were closed for more than an hour.

Seventh Avenue was closed between West 48th and West 44th streets, and West 46th, West 47th and West 48th streets were closed from 6th to 8th Avenues while police investigated.

It was a smaller stretch than was closed on Saturday night, but still impacted visitors.

Henry Goldfine, an attorney from New Jersey attending a meeting at the Marriott Marquis, said he had planned to relax on the Times Square pedestrian mall but was turned away.

"Instead, I'm going back where there's no air and no light," Goldfine said, standing near the hotel. "We don't have things like this in New Jersey."

It was also the second suspicious package in the Times Square area on Friday.

Around 9:00 a.m., a 30-year-old vendor spotted a small black duffel bag near his cart at the northwest corner of 45th Street and Eighth Avenue, just steps from the Crossroads of the World.

The Bomb Squad investigated that package, and after 30 minutes of local street closures, the bag was deemed not suspicious.

Inside the bag, they found a gray shirt, white tube socks, a toothbrush and pens.

More than 600 calls came in since Saturday's attempted car bombing of a busy street near Times Square - about 30 percent higher than normal, police said.

"This is something that happens fairly regularly," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Friday. "I think to a certain extent, people are becoming more suspicious, more vigilant. ... We understand that's what happens, and we're prepared to respond."

Bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad remained in custody and did not appear in court Friday. Kelly said he continued to cooperate, while Gen. David Petraeus debunked theories that Shahzad had help, saying he apparently worked alone and did not have contact with foreign terror groups.