Suspicious package at Cuomo’s Manhattan office cleared; no device found, cops say

A suspicious package at Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Manhattan office prompted a brief evacuation on Wednesday, Oct. 24, officials said.
A suspicious package at Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Manhattan office prompted a brief evacuation on Wednesday, Oct. 24, officials said. Photo Credit: Kayla Simas

A suspicious package sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Manhattan office prompted police to briefly evacuate the building on Wednesday, the same day that police said an explosive device was discovered at the Time Warner Center in Columbus Circle.

Cuomo, who was informed of the threat during a news conference regarding the device at Columbus Circle, said the package has since been removed and is being investigated by the NYPD and state police.

"There were notes but I’d rather not comment until after the investigation is completed," Cuomo said immediately following the 12:45 p.m. news conference at Columbus Circle.

NYPD spokesman J. Peter Donald said the package did not contain an explosive device and was unrelated to the incident that prompted the evacuation of the Time Warner Center, which includes CNN’s newsroom and offices.

“I think this has been a hectic morning; it’s been a hectic couple of days. On one level it is frightening and it’s something that we need to take very seriously,” Cuomo said outside of his office on Third Avenue, near 40th Street. “And we are — there’s increased police protection, etc. — but at the same time I think it’s also time for a deep breath.

“We are New Yorkers; there are people who try to make us afraid, who try to disrupt us. That’s part of being New York. We’re an international icon, we’re also an international target. Terrorism only works if you let them win.”

While speaking at Columbus Circle, Mayor Bill de Blasio said there were no other specific or credible threats against New York City. However, the NYPD has deployed extra resources to high-profile locations across the city out of an abundance of caution.

“You will see increased police at the subways, at the bridges and tunnels," Cuomo said outside of his office. "Don’t be alarmed, it’s only prudent and diligent to act in response and that’s what we’re doing."

The explosive device at the Time Warner Center was discovered in the CNN mailroom just before 10 a.m., prompting an evacuation of the building as police and emergency responders converged on the busy Manhattan hub. It was safely removed by police around noon and taken via a so-called "total containment vessel" to an NYPD facility in the Bronx for further investigation.

The device, which was addressed to former CIA director and CNN contributor John Brennan, is similar to explosives that were sent to former president Barack Obama and former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton as well as George Soros, a billionaire businessman and Democratic Party donor who has been criticized by President Donald Trump on Twitter, officials said.

Trump addressed the incidents on Wednesday, condemning the attempted attacks and promising justice.

"In these times, we have to unify, we have to come together, and send one very clear, strong, unmistakable message that acts or threats of political violence of any kind have no place in the United States of America," Trump said at the White House. "We’re extremely angry, upset and unhappy about what we witnessed this morning, and we will get to the bottom of it."

So far, there have been no arrests in connection with any of the incidents.

Cuomo said he believes the “heated rhetoric and toxic environment” surrounding the midterm elections is partly to blame, adding that the country is nearing a “boiling point.”

“No country can destroy this country, but this country can harm itself if we allow our differences to become so heated that we consume ourselves. Then we’re in trouble,” the governor said.

With Lisa L. Colangelo, Nicole Brown and Reuters