New York (The Wall Street Journal) - As frightened pedestrians ran from an explosion near the Port Authority Bus Terminal Monday, 28-year-old Port Authority Police Officer Anthony Manfredini ran toward the area where the device detonated, said agency and union officials.
Mr. Manfredini, a former canine-bomb technician in the Marines, was the first of four Port Authority officers who apprehended the terror suspect after the morning rush-hour blast, said Paul Nunziato, president of the Port Authority Police Benevolent Association.
Mr. Manfredini, was at his post when he saw people running near the area where Akayed Ullah, a 27 year-old immigrant from Bangladesh, allegedly attempted to set off a homemade pipe bomb strapped to his body, authorities said. The explosive fizzled, burning the suspect and slightly injuring three others.
Mr. Manfredini took the device off the suspect, Mr. Nunziato said.
He then alerted the Port Authority police desk and three more officers, Jack Collins, Sean Gallagher and Drew Preston, were sent to the scene, Mr. Nunziato said.
The officers saw the suspect surrounded by smoke and all four moved to restrain him, he said.
“They saw wires, a cellphone,” Mr. Nunziato said. “They didn’t know if he had more devices on him. At that moment, they made a split-second decision. They jumped on him so he couldn’t detonate anything else.”
“They all could have been dead,” Mr. Nunziato said. “They’re heroes…They saved a lot of people tonight.”
Mr. Collins is a 45-year-old attorney and 18-year veteran with the Port Authority police; Mr. Gallagher is a 26-year-old former Marine; and Mr. Preston is a 36 year-old former Army soldier who served two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, according to Mr. Nunziato.
The officers couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
The Port Authority on Monday praised their work as rapid and decisive.
“Thanks to the quick response of these officers…. there were no serious injuries, and the [bus terminal] was secured without further incident,” said Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole in a statement. “Our officers put themselves in harm’s way to protect the public.”
Eugene O’Donnell, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said the incident is a reminder of why New York City transit hubs often are filled with security personnel.
“It underscores why we have a Port Authority police,” Mr. O’Donnell said, noting that 37 Port Authority police officers died on Sept. 11, 2001, in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. “This is some of the most targeted real estate in the world.”
Apprehending the terror suspect, Mr. O’Donnell said, might be “some vindication for an agency hit hard on 9/11.”