This is a bizarre, almost comical turn in the Chelsea bombing story, courtesy of DNAinfo: One of the two bombs placed in the lower Manhattan neighborhood by Ahmad Khan Rahami on Saturday was apparently disabled by two thieves who saw the suitcase sitting by itself and decided to nab it.
The young men, who sources described as being well-dressed, opened the bag and took the bomb out, sources said, before placing the explosive into a garbage bag and walking away with the rolling suitcase.
“Once they picked up the bag, they seemed incredulous. They had actually picked this up off the street and they walked off with it,” according to Robert Boyce, the NYPD’s Chief of Detectives.
“They look like they were two gentlemen just strolling up and down Seventh Avenue at the time,” Boyce added.
Investigators believe they inadvertently disabled the explosive, sources said.
“It’s difficult to say right now if they at all, inadvertently perhaps even, pulled a wire,” Boyce said.
Because the bomb—planted four blocks from the location of the explosion on West 23rd—didn’t explode, police were able to trace the attached cellphone back Rahami’s family, and make their arrest.
The men have not been apprehended, and police don’t think they’re part of the terror plot, but they are considered witnesses and police are trying to identify them.
Amazingly, that wasn’t the only interference in Rahami’s plan. In Elizabeth, NJ, two homeless men went through a bag they found near a train station, and alerted police when they realized they had found another bomb. This one didn’t have any detonators, and police speculate it was being dumped rather than exploded.