FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force is leading Seaside Park explosion investigation [video]

    The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Joint Terrorism Task Force is now leading the investigation into this morning’s garbage can explosion in Seaside Park that occurred just before a Marine Corps 5k was to get underway. 

    In a late afternoon press conference, FBI Special Agent Brad Cohen, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Newark field office, said federal authorities are working “side by side” with local and state officials in investigating the explosion that happened near the boardwalk in the area of D Street and North Ocean Avenue in the barrier island community around 9:30 a.m.

    “We’re working together to conduct a thorough investigation to find out who is responsible at this time,” he said, adding that the investigators are “conducting interviews, securing evidence, and making sure there’s no stone left unturned.”

    Earlier today, authorities said one improvised explosive device (IED) exploded while two others in the same garbage can remained intact. In a release earlier this afternoon, the New Jersey State Police said “no additional explosions or secondary locations have been identified.”

    There were no injuries.

    Cohen did not take any questions, citing an active investigation. He said investigators “are not aware of any known threat to public safety at this time” and urged anyone with information to dial 1-800-CALLFBI (option 1).

    Seaside Park Police Department Chief Francis Larkin stated that all residents that remained displaced will be allowed to return home at 6 p.m, adding that residents of C, D, and E streets (near the explosion site) will need to present identification to police. The beaches are along the same streets will also be closed until further notice, he said.

    “I would like to thank our county, our state, and federal agencies for their quick response to this unfortunate incident,” Larkin said. 

    The critical facts from our reporting this morning:

    An explosion mangled a garbage can this morning near the boardwalk in Seaside Park as a race benefiting service-members was about to begin.

    The incident began around 9:30 a.m. when police received a report of an explosion and a smoldering garbage can near D Street and the boardwalk, police said. 

    “I saw and heard it,” said Ben Currie, who snapped the image above. “Dropped me to my knees. It was so loud.”

    Responding personnel immediately began evacuating the boardwalk and Ocean Avenue. 

    An picture of a garbage can showed a large hole through the middle and smoke rising. Authorities are investigating what caused the explosion. The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office is only referring to it as an “explosive device.”

    Witnesses say the Seaside Semper Five Marine Corps Charity 5k was delayed before the explosion due to a suspicious bag incident. The explosion occurred right near the race route. 

    The race, which was canceled, benefits the MARSOC Foundation.

    According to the website, the foundation was “established to provide benevolent support to active duty and medically retired MARSOC personnel and their families as well as to the families of Marines and Sailors who have lost their lives in service to our Nation.”

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.