Living on edge

May 7, 2010 12:57:01 PM PDT
Water bottles inside a cooler, at the pedestrian mall in Times Square.

Hardly a surprising sight on a beautiful spring day with temperatures in the low 70s.

But apparently a shocker in these days of see something, say something. Call out the cavalry, or at least the bomb squad. And that's what happened this afternoon when someone saw a small cooler, and then said something.

Hundreds of calls this week to the NYPD after last Saturday's Times Square bomb scare. On the one hand, it's great peeps are being alert and vigilant. On the other hand, it's unfortunate peeps are being alert and vigilant. Unfortunate that we live in times where people are fearful. Unfortunate that in a city with 8 million people there will be packages left unaccounted for dozens of times a day.

(Heck, I left a handful of laundered shirts in a cab today. Fortunately, the cabbie nicely returned it to my home - the ticket with my address was on the package - instead of calling the bomb squad.)

It's a conundrum for cops: The odds of these packages containing bombs are as close to zero as you can get. But the one time they don't check, that's when the problem starts.

Today - and this is just what we know about - cops checked out a truck that was left parked on the side of a street on 10th Avenue at West 54th Street, and another suspicious truck left at Fifth Avenue and West 44th Street.

Are we becoming a paranoid society? The polls suggest we aren't; most people say they haven't changed their personal habits because of the specter of terrorism. But the Times Square scare clearly changed some people.

With that in mind, we're out with the NYPD bomb squad tonight at 11, as they demonstrate how they go about responding to these hundreds of see-something, say-something reports.

Also at 11, our Jim Dolan is now in Pakistan, trying to piece together the roots and political evolution of Faisal Shahzad, the accused Times Square bomb terrorist. Did he hook up with the Pakistani Taliban? Did they try to use him as a "freebie," getting him to prove his allegiance to jihad without bringing him into their inner sanctum? Is he just a lone actor? And what led to his transformation from middle-class Pakistani-turned-American, to fundamentalist radical Muslim?

And Nina Pineda tonight at 11 has the story of the mother of a 16-year-old girl who spent her life savings throwing a Sweet 16 party. She booked everything. But then, a few days before the event, the cops shut down the ballroom because of noise violations. And the mom couldn't get her money back. None of it. With the party coming up, and with the financial cupboard try, the mom invited Nina and 7 On Your Side to the party - not as guests, but as white knights.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11, right after 20/20.

BILL RITTER


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