Police are investigating whether a backpack that exploded in a Times Square subway station was planted by the officer who reported it, high-ranking police sources said.
The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Joseph Rodriguez, 27, has had psychological problems that apparently stemmed from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. He helped with the rescue efforts.
Rodriguez was approved for a disability pension last week, and Tuesday, the day after the explosion, was to have been his last day on the job, the sources said.
Police spokesman Paul Browne responded to inquires about Rodriguez by saying, “We’re investigating all aspects of the case.”
The explosion at 8 p.m. Monday disrupted subway service. Rodriguez was taken to a hospital, where he was treated for minor burns and released.
Investigators at first said they believed fireworks caused the blast, but pieces of plastic pipe, traces of black powder and ball bearings were later discovered at the scene, indicating the backpack may have contained a pipe bomb.
A spokesman for the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association said the union had not been notified that investigators want to question Rodriguez, who did not have a lawyer.
No arrests had been made as of early Wednesday.