Three Midtown Gazette reporters — David Klein, Keenan Chen and Rebecca Zissman — were on the scene: Read their report and see photos and videos here.
Carol Hu was there at midnight:
We’ll be covering the story throughout the day, here and on twitter [@TheMTGazette] and instagram.
New Yorkers insist, business as usual — especially at mealtime
By Joseph Flaherty
Emmanuel Berroa, 20 from the Bronx, was working at a food stand, Inday, at Madison Square Eats Saturday night when an explosion happened on 23rd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues.
“I heard a big explosion while serving people food, and then I heard firefighters and police sirens until I left around 9:30,” he said.
He said he was nervous and confused when he heard the bomb go off. “I thought at first it was a thunderstorm, like we were about to get rained on,” Berroa, who is studying broadcast journalism at Queens College, said. But today, things are back to normal. Almost all the picnic tables in the park were occupied by people sampling food from the stands. “It’s a little slow today, but it’s still early,” Berroa said. “It’ll probably pick up as the day goes on.”
Belkis Alva, a retail associate at the Lego Store on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street, said that it’s a little nerve-wracking. “Everyone that passes by is shocked still,” she said. But there were plenty of parents and kids milling around the store, despite the investigation next door. “The parents that live around here can’t let that stop them,” Alva said.
Eataly, the sprawling restaurant and grocery store on Fifth Avenue, had closed its 23rd Street exit due to the police barricade. Nicole William, a vegetable prep chef from Brooklyn, said she’s not scared about working next to the crime scene. “I saw it on the news, but it didn’t bother me,” she said. She arrived for her shift at 11 a.m. and said Eataly is as busy as it normally is.
A pre-planned protest finds an audience
By Rakshita Arni Ravishankar and Amanda L.P. Gomez
“The intent is to get people to question the government,” said Chris Dimartini, who was walking near Madison Square Park holding a sign that read “9/11 Inside Job” and “Trust the Government,” the latter intended with sarcasm.
Dimartini, who lives with his parents in New Jersey and used to go to a visual arts school in New York City, wants to make people aware of what he says is a partnership between large corporations and governments around the world.
“The government does orchestrate events like this,” he said, in reference to the explosion in Chelsea on Saturday night. Dimartini said he had planned on walking around New York City with his sign today regardless of the explosion.
Feeding New York’s finest: breakfast starts at 4 a.m.
By Madison Darbyshire
When a bomb went off at 8:30 pm on 23rd street between 6th and 7th avenues in Manhattan, police, firefighters, and ambulances rushed to the scene.
Among the first responders was Gold Shield Catering, which arrived early Sunday morning to provide free food and drinks to on-duty servicemen and women.
The truck is owned by the Detectives Endowment Association and is staffed by retired servicemen. Because of the company’s close ties with law enforcement, they are able to park behind the police tape and provide meals to those working to secure the area.
Based out of Smithtown, NY, the full-service catering company works with all branches of the protective services, providing catering for FDNY barbecues, NYPD and military events.
On-duty police officers won’t be the only ones pulling 20-hour workdays in the wake of the explosion. “We arrived at 4 a.m.,” says Gold Shield Catering’s owner, Ron Doda, “and we’ll be here until 12 a.m.”
On the menu today: Egg sandwiches, bacon, rolls, grilled cheese on French toast, Danishes, donuts, coffee, tea, water and soda.
The morning after an explosion in Chelsea, a war of words
By Alex Mierjeski and Joseph Flaherty
As New Yorkers sought to understand a blast that rocked Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood and injured 29 on Saturday night, officials grappled with terminology to characterize the explosion.
In separate press conferences on Sunday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called the blast “obviously an act of terrorism,” while NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio described it as only “intentional.”
“I think it’s important to say what we know and don’t know,” de Blasio told reporters. Officials stressed that no individual or group had yet claimed responsibility, but that all leads were currently being investigated.
Many in the Chelsea area on Sunday afternoon said they didn’t have enough information about the event yet to come to a conclusion.
Ram Narayanan, 28, was reading a magazine outdoors near the Flatiron Building and the police barricade of 23rd Street. He said he’s waiting for more facts before jumping to any conclusions about the explosion. “I would hedge toward being cautious,” Narayanan said. “I think when someone makes an announcement based on a gut reaction, that’s going to induce paranoia.”
Last night, Narayanan, who works at a charter school in Brooklyn, was hesitant to take the subway to meet friends after the news broke. “Eventually, I caved and went,” he said. “I guess that’s the hedging toward caution again.”
Roberto Proia, a Midtown resident and movie distributor, said he thinks the explosion is not the work of a terrorist organization like ISIS, and more likely a lone individual. “It seems like more of an unorganized attack than something from ISIS,” he said. Proia believes the reactions and statements from politicians like Donald Trump are more related to the upcoming election than anything else. “The more fearful you are, the more willing you are to accept statements from Trump.”
In a press conference on Sunday, New York Police Commissioner James O’Neil, whose second day on the job was Sunday, said that investigators were looking into possible connections to an earlier incident on Saturday involving a pipe-bomb explosion in Seaside, New Jersey. Police are “not taking any options off the table,” though there was “no specific evidence” linking the events, O’Neil said.
New Yorkers are adamant: Life goes on in Chelsea
By Rakshitha Arni Ravishankar and Amanda L.P. Gomez
New Yorkers woke up on Sunday morning seeking to go on with normal life after an explosion in Chelsea on Saturday night.
“Things are back to normal this morning, but someone is terrorizing us,” said Chris Toto, a Chelsea resident who was in his apartment on West 20th Street when he heard the blast from the explosion on West 23rd Street. Toto said it was louder than thunder.
“Two minutes into the explosion, there were a range of sounds around — fire alarms, sirens — and I was just happy that my partner and I were alive,” he said.
Some residents were more alarmed by the amount of first responders than the initial sound of the explosion.
“I realized something was wrong when I saw fire trucks going against the traffic on 7th Avenue,” said David Yontef, who was getting coffee with a friend at the Starbucks on the corner of West 23rd Street.
Yontef, who lives three blocks away from the site of the explosion, was planning to go out for drinks Saturday night with a friend, Trae Reinart, when he felt his building shaking. Yontef was forced to stay inside because of police barricades and the search for the second explosive.
Yontef and Reinart said they feel safer with the police around the neighborhood, and it would be sensible to let them do their job. Yontef said that it was difficult to speculate the intent of the explosion.
“The foot traffic on 23rd Street is limited as compared with the car traffic. I don’t know why that area was the target,” Yontef said.
Deborah and Alan Cohen, who are visiting family in the area, haven’t been to New York City since 2002, but the incident on Saturday would not keep them away.
“I don’t think this will affect tourism. Life has to go on,” said Deborah, who had to stay at a café on 24th Street until 12:30 a.m. on Saturday night because the area was cordoned off.
As of Sunday afternoon, West 23rd Street was still closed from 5th Avenue to 7th Avenue. Sixth Avenue between West 24th Street and West 22nd Street is also closed to pedestrian traffic. The barricades could be up until late afternoon, according to an officer from New York Police Department’s community affairs unit.
The day after
By Talia Abbas
Maria Caban, who works at Beach Bum Tanning on Seventh Ave between West 23rd and 24th Street, smoked a cigarette and watched as people gravitated to the scene of Saturday’s explosion to catch a glimpse of the damage.
Days after the Saturday night explosion that injured 29 people, the mood in Chelsea returned to normal as parents picked up their children from school and businesses re-opened their doors.
Caban said that work had been relatively quiet because people don’t expect the salon to be open. “I wasn’t here over the weekend when it happened but I feel fine,” she said.
“My friend was telling me that she’s scared to come here but this is like the safest neighborhood to be in right now, because it’s full of police and nobody would attack a second time.”
Yahaira Stewart, who lives on W. 26th and Ninth Ave with her sister and her newborn daughter, walked over Monday afternoon to see the barricaded scene.
“I don’t think it’s unsafe to be here. I’m here now, aren’t I?” Stewart said, even as she and her sister discussed whether there should be more aggressive attempts to check people’s belongings.
The 1, E and F service resumed service on Monday to stops near West 23rd Street after being shut down over the weekend.
Lynnette Nicholas, who picked up her seven-year-old daughter from school, was in a hurry to catch the subway on Seventh Ave and W 23rd that afternoon.
“I always take my daughter for sushi after school but I totally forgot that everything was closed off,” she said. “It’s terrible what happened, but this is New York. It doesn’t mean you’ve got to stop living your life.”
As of Monday afternoon, people who could prove that they lived or worked on West 23rd Street were allowed to enter the barricaded area.
The degree of the damage to buildings after the explosion remained unclear. News vehicles were still stationed on Seventh Avenue, waiting for updates from the investigation.