New York on alert in wake of Boston bombings

Brooklynites are being reminded to remain vigilant in the wake of two pressure cooker bombs which exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, injuring hundreds and killing three.

No one has taken responsibility for the act, which rocked the city on one of the most celebratory days of the year, Patriot Day, when Bostonians have the day off from work, enjoy the marathon, maybe a Red Sox game and take in the spring weather.

Three people were killed and dozens seriously injured as a result of the twin explosions, which have been followed by several other incidents including letters addressed to President Barack Obama and U.S. Senator Roger Wicker – both intercepted by the authorities — which are reported to have contained ricin.

Here in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo has directed state agencies to be on heightened alert. Those agencies include the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES), the New York State Police (NYSP), National Guard, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ).

“As we learn more about this incident, New York has taken every step to ensure the safety of all New Yorkers and all those visiting our state,” Cuomo said. “No cowardly act of terrorism will ever match the will and bravery of New Yorkers and Americans, nor will it deter us from carrying on with our daily lives.”

In Bay Ridge, someone placed a device made to look like a bomb in front of a retired firefighter’s home during the early morning hours of Wednesday, April 17. State Senator Marty Golden condemned the act.

“After the horrific terrorist attacks in Boston on Monday, the idea of attempting to create panic with a lewd act of this nature is unconscionable,” he said. “The perpetrators of this prank must be brought to justice, and I ask anyone with information to come forward.  These childish pranks are no laughing matter.  During a time of  grave  concern,  when everyone is on heightened alert, to divert police and  public resources for a gag is a criminal act, and should be treated as such.”

Brooklynites are also expressing their solidarity with Boston. Borough Hall was lit with green the evening of Tuesday, April 16 in honor of the victims and their families. The Occupy Wall Street Light Brigade and The Illuminators also put illuminated messages on the side of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, “BROOKLYN LOVES BOSTON” and “NY ♥ B” were two of the messages. The other projection featured a quote: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. NY <3 B.”

Locally, Captain Richard DiBlasio, commanding officer of the 68th Precinct, assured residents that the precinct’s officers were on “higher alert because of the senseless act. Elected officials, community leaders and schools have been updated. It’s important for us to reach out the community,” he said to attendants gathered at the 68th Precinct Community Council meeting held at the station house on April 16.

“We assure you that the 68th Precinct has been here always and will continue to be here,” DiBlasio said. “We all have to remember to be on alert. If you see something, say something. Don’t think someone else saw it. Don’t think you are going to get embarrassed. We are here to keep you as safe as possible with your help.”

DiBlasio also added that extra precautions would be taken with upcoming area events, such as the Five Boro Bike Tour on May 5 and the Harbor Fitness Run for Autism on April 28.

“With any events we have, we will revisit security in light of what happened in Boston,” he said. “Officers will be out there taking the measures that are necessary. We are going to increase our presence and your safety.”

The FBI is currently investigating both the bombings and the ricin-laced letters.

–Additional reporting contributed by Helen Klein and Heather J. Chin

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