Charity 5K Bombing Suspect Arrested After Explosion at Weekend Race
On Saturday, hours before an explosion in New York City's Chelsea neighborhood injured 29 people, a similar device exploded near the route of a charity 5K race in a small Jersey Shore town, officials said.
The explosion occurred at approximately 9:35 a.m., sending skyward a large plume of smoke and forcing organizers of the Seaside Semper Five Marine Corps Charity 5K, held in Seaside Park, N.J., to cancel the race. The device detonated in a trash can close to the race's planned route. There were no injuries.
It could have been worse. Via The New York Times:
The race was scheduled to start around 9 a.m., but it had been delayed because of a large turnout of around 3,000 people, according to Al Della Fave, the spokesman for the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office.
“That delay helped tremendously in terms of what could have been,” he told reporters.
Ben Currie, 39, a photographer, said he was on the beach a few blocks away taking pictures of the ocean when the explosion happened.
“It was so loud, it made my knees buckle. All the birds went flying off the beach,” he said. “A black plume of smoke, about 25 feet high, rose.”
The race, hosted by MARSOC Foundation, a nonprofit that supports active-duty and retired Marines and Navy personnel, typically attracts around 700 participants, The Washington Post reported. After the blast, organizers cancelled the race, saying authorities were investigating a suspicious bag and telling participants to go home.
Police placed the town on lockdown while they searched the area. According to CNN, they found three more devices nearby, though none detonated.
Authorities said the devices were similar to the one that detonated in New York City. While they originally believed the two explosions were unrelated, they now believe Ahmad Khan Rahami, a person of interest in the Chelsea blast, may be connected, NPR reported. Rahami was arrested this morning following reports of a shootout with police.
As of Sunday, Seaside Park reopened for business. But the investigation, led by the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force, will continue.
"We are grateful that nobody was injured, but this is a serious act of violence against the people of New Jersey," state Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino told Philly.com. "We will not rest until we find the person or persons responsible."
It remains unclear if other suspects are wanted in connection to the bombings.