Belmar festival canceled; no known connection between NYC, Seaside explosions, police say
SEASIDE PARK - New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said there is no known connection so far between Saturday's explosion in a trash can in Seaside Park and in New York, but the San Genarro Festival in Belmar was canceled for Sunday as a precaution.
"At the advice of our chief of police we are going to be canceling San Gennaro today," Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty said.
He said that additional police were brought in, but following Saturday night's explosion in the Chelsea section of Manhattan, local law enforcement officials have recommended that the local celebration be canceled.
"Our chief advised me that we should cancel today and I'm going to take him up on his advice and put public safety first and cancel today," Dohrty said.
The explosion canceled the Festival of the Sea seafood festival in Point Pleasant on Saturday. The Que By The Sea event in Seaside Heights is still on for Sunday.
"Police Chief Boyd has assigned officers to inspect and clear trash cans, and he added police officers to patrol the festival venue," said Seaside Heights Business Administrator Christopher Vaz in an email on Sunday morning.
The blast in the Chelsea neighborhood injured 29 people, and a suspicious device discovered blocks away was safely removed early Sunday. Mayor De Blasio ruled out any terror connections, but called the blast an "intentional act."
"Based on what we know at this hour there is no specific connection to the incident in New Jersey. It is too early to say anything definitive on those questions but there's no specific evidence of a connection at this point," the mayor said at a press conference. He repeated that assertion as did New York Police Commissioner James O'Neill at a press conference later on Sunday.
Gov. Chris Christie on CNN's State of the Union told Jake Tapper "At this time we don't believe there's any evidence connecting (Seaside Park) to the attacks in New York or Minnesota," said the governor, adding that there are some "promising leads but no suspects at this time."
New York governor Andrew Cuomo echoed a similar sentiment about the connection between the two explosions and noted the Seaside Park device was a pipe bomb while a pressure cooker was used in Chelsea.
FBI spokesman Mike Whittaker said Sunday they continue to work with federal, state and local agencies to "run down leads, conduct interviews and collect evidence" and that no arrests have been made.
"Our offices are in constant communication" with information that is evaluated and digested, Whittaker said, but he could not speculate on a connection between the Seaside Park and New York incidents.
MetLife Stadium sent over several tweets on Sunday morning reminding those going to the Giants home opener of the NFL's clear bag policy which allows on clear bags that are 12” x 6” x 12” or less in size (1 bag per person) and non-clear, small purses/handbags (clutch-type bags) that are 4.5” x 6.5” or less in size (1 per person). "The security at MetLife Stadium is robust, comprehensive, and flexible. As with any event, operation plans are adjusted continuously to provide the best possible security," NJ State Police said in a statement.
Traffic restrictions have been lifted with residents and visitors traveling freely in and out of Seaside Park.The beach in Seaside Park is open on Sunday.
At a press conference Saturday, Acting Special Agent in Charge Brad Cohen did not offer specific about the type of device found in Seaside Park before the start of the Semper Five charity race, if additional devices were found or if the military was a target.
Ocean County Prosecutor's Office spokesman Al Della Fave clarified some of the comments he made on Saturday.
"When I was talking to the press I told them I had heard there were reports of multiple devices.I said I could not confirm that at this time. I said all I can give you is that it was a device contained within a trash receptacle," Della Fave said. "The New Jersey State Police will ascertain the sophistication of the device and its detonating device."
On Sunday, Ocean County Sheriff Mike Mastronardy once again stressed the importance of reporting suspicious activity.
"We are reminded again of all the sacrifices our Law Enforcement, fire personnel, and EMS make each and every day. The attacks yesterday in our very own backyard as we stand saluting the United States Marine Corps demonstrate the resolve by our federal, state, county, and municipal agencies working together to fight against acts of terror. We thank the public for their support and cooperation yesterday. As always if you see something, say something," Mastronardy said on Sunday.
The FBI asked anyone with information about the Seaside Park incident to call 1-800-CALLFBI Option 1.
Congressman Tom MacArthur on his Facebook page said the Seaside Park explosion was "a sobering reminder that we must always be vigilant. I am grateful for the swift response by all of our law enforcement agencies. As more details become available, I will work with our law enforcement agencies to ensure they have the full support of the federal government to ensure the safety of our residents."