New York City police on Thursday ended an hours-long standoff with a man suspected of causing a bomb scare then barricading himself inside a sport utility vehicle, forcing police to shut a major mid-Manhattan shopping area and traffic circle.
The man, who wore a red plastic helmet, barricaded himself inside a gold-colored SUV in the Columbus Circle area, a tourist destination packed with high-end retail stores, New York Police Chief of Department James O’Neill told reporters.
At about 8 a.m. EDT, police in tactical gear as well as hostage negotiators convinced the man to surrender, police said. Negotiations lasted about six hours.
The man, identified by multiple news outlets as Hector Meneses, 52, from the borough of Queens, is accused of tossing what appeared to be a bomb into a marked police van in Times Square late on Wednesday night before fleeing in his SUV, O’Neill said.
A sergeant and an officer inside the van inspected the package, which contained a candle, cylindrical object and an electronic device with a flashing light wrapped in white cloth, police said.
“The items were later determined by the bomb squad to be an apparent hoax device,” O’Neill said.
Hours after the scare, patrol officers spotted the suspect driving his vehicle in Columbus Circle and pulled him over, O’Neill said. The man refused to talk to police, put a plastic helmet on his head and barricaded himself inside the vehicle, O’Neill said.
The area was blocked off by armored police vehicles and barricades, television images and photographs from local media showed.
(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)
SOURCE: LAILA KEARNEY