NEW YORK — Police arrested a man following a bomb scare that emptied Pennsylvania Station and disrupted service on Amtrak, commuter trains and city subways for about an hour.
The busy commuter hub was evacuated after the man allegedly threw a backpack at an Amtrak agent and said it was a bomb, said Marissa Baldeo, a spokeswoman for New York City Transit. The threat was a false alarm, and service on all lines was soon restored.
Police arrested the man, Raul Claudio, 43, on Sunday, according to Manhattan District Attorney’s office spokeswoman, Barbara Thompson. Claudio is awaiting arraignment on felony charges of making terrorists threats and falsely reporting an incident, Thompson said. Each count carries a sentence of up to seven years in prison.
Travelers take disruption in stride
The incident came days after a second bombing attack on London’s commuter system prompted New York police to start random inspections of subway riders’ bags. Authorities in New Jersey began similar searches Monday.
But travelers seemed to be taking the disruption in stride.
Tim Allen, a Londoner headed from New York to Boston, has endured similar false alarms recently in London. “This is the second time this has happened in two and a half weeks to me,” he said.
The incident was over as quickly as it began. One minute, camouflage-clad soldiers were shouting, “Penn Station is closed indefinitely,” and the next minute they got the all-clear and started letting people back into the station.
The service disruption affected Amtrak, the Long Island Rail Road, New Jersey Transit and the Seventh and Eighth Avenue subway lines.
New Jersey begins inspections
Also Sunday, a double-decker Gray Line tourist bus was evacuated in midtown Manhattan after a bus company supervisor told police that five male passengers with backpacks and “stuffed” pockets had raised her suspicions. Police handcuffed five men and searched about 60 passengers before determining there was no threat.
Authorities in New Jersey began searching the bags of bus and train riders on Monday, although acting Gov. Richard J. Codey said last week there is no specific threat about attacks against the state.
About 800,000 passenger trips are recorded every weekday on NJ Transit, with about a half-million on buses, 230,000 on trains, and the rest on light rail.
Travelers who refused the searches would not allowed to ride.
The American Civil Liberties Union said the inspections violate protections against unreasonable searches. Edward Barocas, legal director of the group’s New Jersey chapter, said it was too early to determine what, if any, action the group would take.
© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.