I woke up on my first morning in New York City to blaring sirens outside my hotel. Since this was my first time in Manhattan, I figured this was normal for the large and busy city. I was only two blocks from Times Square, and it was Monday during morning rush hour. "Typical", I thought as I tried to doze back to sleep. But as seconds turned to minutes of constant sirens, I got up from my bed to investigate.
A fire truck, ambulance, police car, and SWAT truck flew down the street in succession...something was definitely going on. I turned on the TV and watched for a few minutes before they broke the news. There was an attempted bombing in the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City. I had just passed the Port Authority on my way home from Times Square the night before, and I suddenly realized the attempted terror attack was two blocks from my hotel. The Port Authority Bus Terminal is on 8th Avenue, between 41st and 42nd. My hotel was on 10th Avenue, between 41st and 42nd.
Apparently, just before 7:20 a.m. "a would-be suicide attacker detonated a pipe bomb strapped to his body, sending thousands of terrified commuters fleeing the smoke-choked passageways, and bringing the heart of Midtown to a standstill as hundreds of police officers converged on Times Square and the surrounding streets. (The New York Times)" Luckily the weapon failed to full detonate, none were killed and the attacker was seriously injured in the blast. The attacker, Akayed Ullah, told investigators that he set off his bomb in retaliation for United States airstrikes on ISIS targets in Syria and elsewhere.
I found all this out after the fact. All I knew at the time was that there was an attempted bombing. So l hustled to get ready, grabbed my camera and headed down to the scene. The subway system had halted, no one was allowed to access the underground network, and there was a one block radius of the Port Authority which was blocked off, where no civilians were allowed to enter.
Since I couldn't get to 41st/42nd and 8th, I walked up a block to 43rd and 8th. Police tape, news crews, fire fighters, police and SWAT were everywhere. There was a group of fire fighters standing by their trucks just starring South down 8th Avenue simply waiting. It came to my attention that they had the situation under control, so after shooting a few photos I continued to walk up 8th Avenue to Central Park. Since 8th Avenue was blocked off to cars for about a 1 mile in each direction, I was literally able to walk down the middle of the street, which was lined with police cars, ambulance and fire trucks. After the mile of closures, the streets opened back up to cars and people carried on as if nothing was happening a few blocks South.
New York City is a city of defense and preparedness, and I witness this on the the morning of December 11th, 2017. The response, organization and take down of this would-be attacker seemed routine and effortless. I've never felt safer in a large city than I did during a attempted terror attack in NYC!
What a morning to wake up to...