SEASIDE PARK, NewJersey – The Asbury Park Press reports a pipe-bomb-style device detonated in a garbage can at the start of the route of a Marine Corps charity race this morning, injuring no one, but sparking a massive law-enforcement response and suspicions of terrorism.
The device went off about 9:35 a.m. at Ocean Avenue and D Street, where the Seaside Semper Five 5K had been scheduled to start at 9:30 a.m., said Al Della Fave, spokesman for the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office.
Problems with registration for the race delayed its start and possibly spared people from injury, he said.
“When it went off, there was nobody in the area,’’ Della Fave said.
Multiple agencies are investigating the incident and whether the motive was terror, he said.
“You would have to assume that at a military-type event, the U.S. Marines, a device is placed along the route of a charity event, it would be hard to think it would be anything else,’’ Della Fave said.
Della Fave said multiple explosive devices, as many as three, were enclosed in the trash can, designed to send shrapnel flying, but because only one of them detonated, “it appears it didn’t do the damage it was supposed to.’’
Della Fave said there were about 3,000 people assembled at the registration area for the race when the pipe-bomb detonated.
A four-block area surrounding D Street was evacuated as law-enforcement swept the area for more explosive devices, but none aside from those in the one garbage can were found, Della Fave said.
Traffic across the Mathis Bridge was shut down around 12:30 p.m., but the bridge reopened about an hour later, although people are still restricted from the boardwalk area as the state police decide how to handle the explosive devices in the trash can, the report said.
The arson unit of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office initially was leading the investigation into the incident, aided by the New Jersey State Police bomb squad, the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office, and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, but Della Fave said he learned that the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office will be taking over the probe.
A state police helicopter hovered over Seaside Park, while emergency vehicles flooded the streets, and bomb-sniffing dogs made the rounds.
A barbecue festival in Seaside Heights is going on as planned, but the mayor of Point Pleasant decided to cancel a seafood festival because of the day’s events, Della Fave said.