TIMES SQUARE (PIX11) –The FBI and NYPD have released new information as they seek the public’s help in solving one of the highest profile series of unsolved crimes of the last ten years in New York City.
The new information comes five years after the last of the crimes took place, and as more is released about the series of Midtown bombings, more questions arise, including, why are the crimes still unsolved?
The new release came in the form of surveillance video recorded after a bomber exploded a device at the Armed Forces Recruiting Center in Times Square on March 6, 2008. The FBI released about four minutes of video it had been withholding for five years. The agency also released a photograph of the explosive device used in the recruiting center bombing.
In the clearest video clip of the new release, a full-sized person wearing what appears to be a rain jacket with the hood up rides away from the bombing scene on a bicycle. The person’s face is not visible and, according to the FBI, it’s not even clear what the person’s gender is.
All of the newly released video shows the suspect on a bicycle. A photo of the bike was released by investigators when their case was still new, in 2008. It was a medium blue Ross racing cycle that the suspect dumped minutes after the bombing, about six blocks from the scene of the crime.
The FBI on Tuesday also re-issued surveillance video of the bombing itself. In that video, shot in grainy, early morning darkness from a camera at least half of a block away from where the bombing took place, the suspect is seen dismounting the bike and laying it on a railing in front of the recruitment center.
The person in the video then walks up to the door of the recruiting station and places an explosive there. The newly released photo of the device shows very clearly that it is a military issue ammunition box that the bomber had filled with explosive powder that was eventually lit with a fuse.
The surveillance video shows the bomber walk toward the bicycle after the fuse is lit, mount the cycle and ride away seconds before the bomb explodes, leaving the glass and metal facade of the the recruiting center significantly damaged.
Nobody was hurt in the explosion, but investigators have said that the explosive power of the device could have killed someone if they had been close enough physically to the impact.
As the surveillance video shows, at least five people were within thirty paces of the recruitment center door as the explosive device’s fuse burned. Anywhere from one to all of them are potential eyewitnesses — or accomplices — in a case that appears to have gone cold.
“We really believe that there are people out there who know something,” said New York City Police Dept. Deputy Chief Matthew Pontillo at a news conference Tuesday afternoon, “based on what we put out there,” he said, investigators hope that witnesses remember “more clearly what they saw.”
“Any information, no matter how small or insignificant one might think it is, may be very significant to us,” said Pontillo.
Another reason for the revived call for the public’s help, the head of the FBI office in Chelsea pointed out. “Obviously, we’re very frustrated,” said Special Agent In Charge Carlos Fernandez, “and that’s why we continue to pursue the investigation. We have a squad of very dedicated agents looking into this matter.”
He also said that there appears to be a connection among the Armed Forces Recruiting Center bombing and two other Midtown bombings over the last eight years.
In May of 2005, somebody planted an explosive device in front of the British Consulate. Two years later, in October 2007, somebody exploded homemade hand grenades at the Mexican Consulate. Then, five months after that, the Times Square recruitment center explosion took place. All three happened in Midtown, during the 3:00 A.M. hour, and, according to the FBI, all may be related.
The agency also confirmed that the suspect may have had up to five accomplices.
PIX11 News has learned, from sources close to the investigation, that one lead being strongly pursued is that the bombing is the handiwork of a group of anarchist activists working together.
In a stepped effort to gather more information, the FBI reminded the public that its local tipline is (212) 384-1000. It also developed the Twitter hashtag #BikeBomber in order to receive tweeted tips about the case.
Furthermore, the agency is offering a $65,000 reward for any information leading to an arrest in the bombing at the recruitment center.