Monday, May 25, 2009

Small Bomb Goes Off Outside Upper East Side Starbucks

Via NY Daily News -

A small improvised explosive device detonated outside an Upper East Side Starbucks early Monday morning, shattering the coffee shop's windows and raising fears of terrorism.

The bomb tore a hole in a wooden bench outside the coffee chain's outpost at Third Ave. and E. 92nd St. when it exploded at 3:30 a.m.

No one was injured in the blast, but it terrified residents who had been fast asleep early on Memorial Day.

"I heard a giant noise -- a big, giant noise, like a crash -- and there was a flash," said Jordan Kovnot, 26, a law student who lives above the Starbucks. "It made me jump up."

"It felt like an earthquake," said Adrianna Ebans, 28, who was among more than a dozen residents evacuated from the apartments above the Starbucks. "We were all really scared."

Scores of detectives are crawling over the blast site, looking for surveillance video and trying to determine the nature of the low-grade explosive device, which investigators believe was either placed on or taped to the bench.

"We don't know the motive. Obviously it's a cause for concern," said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. "We're going to do an in-depth investigation."

No one had claimed credit for the blast, nor was it called in ahead of time, said Kelly.

Kelly -- who noted that Starbucks branches have been victimized in other cities by protestors angry at the chain's global reach -- said investigators were also exploring whether this morning's blast was connected to other previous small explosions in the city.

The Mexican and British Consulates, as well as the military recruiting station in Times Square, have been rattled by pre-dawn explosions, all occurring between 3:30 and 4:30 a.m. No has been arrested in connection with those events.

Kelly said that while a bicyclist was seen in the area of the previous bombings, no witnesses have come forward to say they saw Monday morning's blast.

The bench and three of Starbucks' windows were destroyed, but nothing was damaged inside the store, Kelly said.

Though the explosion was small, the blast unnerved area residents.

"It was loud, dude, you felt it in your chest," said security guard Bryant Asencio, who was on break from his job in an apartment building across the street when the device blew up. "I saw a bunch of tenants running out. They were frantic. They were scared."

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