All beaches have reopened in Seaside Park, New Jersey. Yesterday, the beaches and many access roads were shut down after an improvised explosive device detonated shortly before thousands of runners were to participate in the Semper Five Marine Corps Charity 5k. All roads to the Jersey Shore town are also open.
Seaside Park today
Joggers, walkers and bikers were out and about Sunday on the boardwalk and nearby streets. Some stopped to take pictures of the site where the blast occurred and of television trucks that remained in the area.
“It’s the first time I’m leery of walking around and everything,” borough resident Don Bernabe told the Asbury Park Press. “I walked by the first set of garbage cans back there coming this way, and it was weird, but that feeling went away. You never get that feeling around here. Ever.”
Another resident, Maggie Powell, voiced similar concerns.
“I have to admit, yes, this whole thing is pretty disconcerting. You don’t think these types of things can happen around here, but something like this reminds you it can happen anywhere. It’s sad, actually,” she said.
Race was delayed
The running race was about to begin when an explosion around 9:30 a.m. rang out. No one was injured but race organizers say the race got delayed due to the large numbers of people registering for the race and reports of an unattended backpack being found.
Officials noted that if the race had started on time, a “good number of people” would have been running past the area where the explosion occurred.
After the explosion was traced to a nearby trash can, the race was cancelled, and the immediate area was put on lockdown. Several homes near the scene were evacuated as a precaution, though those residents were allowed to return home early Saturday night.
Chad Ruedin, who happened to be walking along the boardwalk when the blast occurred, told News12 New Jersey that when he heard the explosion, he initially thought it was the start of the charity race. But after thinking about it for a minute, Ruedin said he thought to himself “that was one hell of a start to a race.”
Ruedin said he soon saw smoke coming from the garbage can and saw other debris in the area, though he didn’t know if those items were parts of the can and/or trash that had been in the receptacle.
The FBI has taken over as the lead agency in the New Jersey blast.
FBI Special Agent Michael Whitaker said state and federal investigators were still canvassing the Seaside Park area Sunday and conducting interviews.
Appearing Sunday on CNN’s “Inside Politics” with Jake Tapper, Gov. Chris Christie said state police had “some promising leads” but no suspects. The Republican governor said people should not jump to conclusions about who may be responsible for the blast or what the motive was.
Christie said that by his own definition, he personally considered the blasts “terrorism” as well as a knife attack at a Minnesota mall.
New Jersey Congressman Tom MacArthur, whose district includes Seaside Park, says the person responsible for the pipe bomb blast is “mentally unhinged.”
He said those in the area have been through a lot, with Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and its aftermath, and now the bomb blast.
MacArthur said that person needs to be “tracked down and brought to justice.”
N.J. and N.Y. blasts
Later on Saturday a bomb was set off in New York City that left 29 injured. That immediately began speculation that the two explosions might be related.
This morning authorities in New York City, said, at this time, there doesn’t appear to be any link between the Seaside Park and Manhattan explosions.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, speaking near the site of last night’s blast on West 23rd Street in the Chelsea neighborhood, said the device in Manhattan appeared to be different than the one in New Jersey and that he didn’t believe the two were connected. Authorities in New York found a second device a few blocks away from the one that exploded and safely removed it.
Minnesota Mall stabbings
In a separate incident from the two explosions on the East Coast, Eight people were injured during a stabbing attack at a Minnesota shopping mall last night . Authorities say the attacker — who was dressed in a private security uniform and made references to Allah — was shot dead by an off-duty police officer. An Islamic State-run news agency claims man was a “soldier of the Islamic State.” It was not immediately clear if the extremist group had planned the attack or even knew about it beforehand. IS has encouraged so-called “lone wolf” attacks.
The Associated Press contributed to this story