It’s been a busy few days for the NYPD bomb squad.
The special task force has been working around the clock at its Rodman’s Neck facility after 56-year-old Floridian Cesar Sayoc allegedly sent a series explosive devices to CNN’s Columbus Circle headquarters on Wednesday, October 24 as well as Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Grill restaurant at 375 Greenwich Street on Thursday, October 25 in addition to many other targets nationwide.
The first challenge that the bomb squad faced was moving explosives from Manhattan to the Pelham Bay facility.
Needless to say that the bombs couldn’t just sit on the passenger seat of a squad car during the ride over.
For situations like this, the NYPD calls in a specialized, total containment vessel.
Shaped like a standard tow truck, the TCV uses a pod-like chamber with a door similar in size to a washing machine’s to get the bombs from points A to B.
“It’s designed to be able to withstand a blast if the explosive were to detonative while within the TCV,” police sources explained. “If it were to explode in the TCV then the pressure would escape through a series of small vents around it’s outside, which means that we don’t have to worry about evacuating the people in the surrounding area while moving the device,” the officer added.
After being loaded up, the TCV was given a police escort to Rodman’s Neck to get the explosives away from the unsuspecting public in case of an unintended detonation.
Once arrived, the detonation of the devices is done primarily as a last resort by the NYPD.
The purpose of the Rodman’s Neck facility is to analyze and disassemble the explosive devices during the contingent investigation.
“It’s essentially a CSI for bombs,” said Bob Bieder, 45th Precinct Community Council president whom has toured the facility in the past. “If you end up detonating the device you can’t find out much about it or its origin,” he added.
Beider went on to explain that every single NYPD-recovered explosive device in the city is sent to Rodman’s Neck to be analyzed.
“Usually the bomb squad will take the device apart first to identify where each of its components was either purchased or created which often helps track down a suspect,” Beider said. “A good amount of the time the bomb squad finds finger prints, powders, and other pieces of evidence that can link to a suspect,” he also mentioned.
In this case, the bomb squad is investigating two pipe bombs, each mailed in a thick, yellow envelope with no post-marking except for six American Flag stamps and return address to Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.
The bomb mailed to CNN was intended for former CIA director John Brennan, although the packaging was addressed to ‘John Brenan.’
The device itself, which police believe mirrored all others recovered nationwide contained a roughly six-inch cylinder connected to black and red wires wrapped in electrical tape and was connected to a detonator.
Rodman’s Neck won’t be the final stop for these explosives, however. Following an NYPD analysis and investigation, the pipe bombs will be shipped off to an FBI facility in Quantico, VA.