The first four police officers to arrive at the scene of the attempted terrorist attack at the Port Authority Bus Terminal on Monday, including one from Rockland, are being hailed as heroes for stopping the bomber from reaching for his cell phone.
The Port Authority Police Benevolent Association identified the four officers as officers as 36-year-old Drew Preston of Theills, a soldier who served in Iraq and Afghanistan; Jack Collins, 45, who is also a lawyer; Sean Gallagher, 26, an ex-Marine; and Anthony Manferdini, 28, a former Marine and bomb technician, were the first to reach Akayed Ullah, 27, moments after he set off a pipe-bomb strapped to his chest in an underground walkway.
"PAPD thanks our heroes for their bravery protecting New Yorkers today and every day," the union wrote on Facebook on Monday.
The officers saw wires running from the Ullah's jacket to his pants, and he was reaching for a cell phone, which the officers knew could be a detonator for an additional bomb.
After a brief struggle, the officers were able to get the phone away from Ullah, said city Police Commissioner James P. O'Neill said.
"The device is based on a pipe bomb, affixed with a combination of velcro and zip ties," NYPD spokesman John Miller said.
The ISIS-inspired Ullah had wires running to a 5-inch metal pipe bomb and a battery pack strapped to his abdomen under his jacket, O'Neill said.
"Thanks to the quick response of these brave Port Authority Police officers, the suspect was apprehended, there were no serious injuries and the PABT was secured without further incident," Port Authority Chairman Kevin O'Toole said in a statement. "Our officers responded immediately and put themselves in harm's way to protect the public."
Ullah, a Bangladeshi national who worked at an electrical company, was "wearing an improvised low-tech explosive device attached to his body" when it accidentally went off as he walked through a passageway between the IND line at 7th Avenue and the IRT at 42nd Street and 8th Avenue around 7:20 a.m., O'Neill said.
The bomber, who came to the U.S. seven years ago and most recently lived in Brooklyn, was seriously injured, with burns and cuts to his hands and abdomen, the commissioner said. He was taken to Bellevue Hospital.
Three other people were treated for minor injuries.
The Port Authority declined a request for interviews with the police officers involved.
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