Saturday night in Times Square tuned into a real-life lesson in security and potential terrorism for a Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office major.
Randy Robertson was in New York City for the weekend as part of a 10-week Federal Bureau of Investigation program in Quantico, Va. He was attending a post-9/11 symposium.
About 7 p.m. Robertson and his class were on their way to Carmine’s, a legendary Italian restaurant two blocks from Times Square. The meal sponsored by the New York City Police Department.
Robertson said he noticed a lot of activity as law enforcement was setting up a perimeter.
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“You could tell something was happening,” Robertson said. “I went up to an officer and asked what was going on. He asked me who I was with.”
Robertson showed him is badge.
The officer then told Robertson a vehicle with propane tanks and black powder had been found.
It turned out a Times Square vendor noticed smoke coming out of a sport utility vehicle and alerted police to what turned out to be a potential bomb placed in Times Square.
The vehicle never exploded and the city averted what Mayor Michael Bloomberg said “could have been a very deadly event.”Robertson watched as the New York City authorities swung into action.
He walked away impressed by the tactics and calmness of the emergency responders.
“The great thing about being a student here is you don’t have to question if your instructor knows what he or she is talking about,” Robertson said. “They do. They have the experience of 9/11. Many of them lost friends and people they knew well. They are serious about it.”
Carmine’s was just inside the perimeter, so Robertson and his classmates got their meal.
“It was far enough on the edge,” he said. “There were big buildings between us.”