COLUMBUS CIRCLE, Manhattan — A 52-year-old man accused of throwing a suspicious device into a police vehicle before barricading himself at Columbus Circle overnight was described Thursday as a quiet but “somewhat nosey” neighbor who at times became “irate.”
Hector Meneses, of Elmhurst, Queens, was arrested Thursday morning following an encounter with police in Times Square the night before, and later, a six-hour standoff at Columbus Circle.
He had no prior arrests and no known history of having psychological issues, Manhattan Chief of Detectives William Aubry said of what investigators were able to uncover as of 8:30 a.m.
The Colombia-born man was only known to have had traffic tickets.
Now, Meneses faces a slew of charges, according to a law enforcement source.
Those charges are reckless endangerment, falsely reporting an incident, placing a false bomb/hazmat, false bomb/hazmat in a sub mall/arena, making terroristic threat, criminal possession of a weapon, menacing, false reporting incident under fire, false reporting incident under emergency, and resisting arrest.
As negotiators spent hours trying to quell the apparently suicidal man while he held a remote, claiming it could detonate a bomb, investigators interviewed several neighbors as well as his home’s super.
Those neighbors painted a picture of him being a quiet man who got particularly involved with neighborhood issues.
He would become "irate" when described as "somewhat nosey," Aubry said of neighbors’ comments.
Police added that Meneses was last known to be a cab driver, and applied for a Taxi and Limousine Commission license in April.
Investigators have not touched on Meneses' motives, only saying that at one point he told police he wished to die.
Meneses’ confrontation with police began Wednesday night when he is accused of throwing a device initially believed to be an explosive into a police cruiser at Times Square.
A bomb squad team determined the device was not a threat, finding it to be a harmless mix of candles, LED lights and tin foil wrapped in a t-shirt.
Police utilized camera and license plate systems throughout Manhattan to track and locate Meneses’ 2008 Chrysler Aspen near Columbus Circle just after 2 a.m. Thursday, police said.
When confronted, he said he wished to die, had a bomb strapped to his vest, and insinuated he could detonate it with a remote in his hands, police said.
After some six hours, he was detained without incident.
No explosives were found on Meneses or his vehicle, Aubry said.