NEWARK, N.J. – A report of gas cans and wires in the back of a car near a railroad overpass Wednesday brought traffic in New Jersey's largest city to a standstill before police determined the items were not components of an explosive.
"At this point, we know it's not a bomb," Newark Police Director Garry McCarthy said after bomb squad personnel examined the car with the help of a robot.
The car was parked on a residential street no more than 60 yards from railroad tracks used by Amtrak and three commuter lines operated by NJ Transit. Train traffic was delayed after police arrived on the scene around 10 a.m. but resumed soon after.
Police diverted traffic off McCarter Highway, the city's primary north-south artery that runs parallel to the elevated train tracks, causing lengthy delays.
According to McCarthy, a 911 operator received a morning call from a passer-by who reported seeing what appeared to be two gas containers, wires and a device in the back of the car, described by police as a Dodge Omni.
A police bomb squad specialist broke through a window to pop the door lock, and the robot opened the door and eventually removed the items.
The wires were found to have been protruding from the toolbox and weren't connected to the containers, which an FBI spokesman described as "a full gas can and a plastic jug with an unidentified liquid." The unidentified device turned out to be a battery pack, McCarthy said.
"Law enforcement has determined that it is not an explosive device or suspicious or threatening in any way," FBI spokesman Bryan Travers said.
Authorities were searching for the vehicle's owner, described as a 58-year-old white male with no criminal record whose license and car registration correspond to an abandoned house in the seaside town of Point Pleasant, McCarthy said.
"We don't know why the car was left here," McCarthy said.
The incident had no impact on Amtrak service, said Amtrak spokesman Cliff Cole. Amtrak police on the scene assisted Newark police, Cole said.
About 15 miles away, in New York City's Time Square, police on May. 1 discovered an SUV rigged with a homemade bomb that failed to go off.
They arrested Faisal Shahzad, a 30-year-old from Bridgeport, Conn., as he tried to leave the country on a flight bound for Dubai. He said he had trained with Pakistani Taliban leaders and had planned a revenge attack in the U.S.
Associated Press Writer Joan Lowy in Washington contributed to this report.