URI explosives expert explains similarities, differences in weekend bombings

Crime scene investigators work at the scene of Saturday's explosion in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood, in New York, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
Crime scene investigators work at the scene of Saturday's explosion in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood, in New York, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

KINGSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — A massive manhunt for a suspect wanted in connection with weekend bombings in New York City and New Jersey has ended in gunfire. The man wanted  for bombings in Manhattan and New Jersey is now in custody after a shootout with officers.

And as investigators work to determine why a man allegedly planted the bombs, there’s the race to figure out how he could have done it.

A law enforcement official said a common thread with bombs found in New York and New Jersey is they all had flip phones attached to them.

That’s where the similarities end and the differences begin.

In New Jersey, a pipe bomb exploded. In New York, investigators found pressure cookers.

“First of all, the intact pressure cooker device should be extremely informative,” said University of Rhode Island chemistry professor Jimmie Oxley.

Oxley is considered an expert in the field of explosives. She worked with the FBI in the 1993 bombing at the World Trade Center.

“They’ll know what the device that did function is like to be made of, they’ll know what the threat materials are that they’re looking for when they raid his home, apartment, wherever he is staying or wherever he put the device together.”

According to another law enforcement official, an exploded device had traces of tannerite, an explosive used in sport shooting.

“They may find multiple materials, they may think there’s a second group involved. I don’t know what they’re going to find at this point, but certainly what’s left behind is always left behind,” said Oxley.

Oxley also said the fact investigators have a device that never exploded means it wasn’t a sophisticated device.

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