Potential Bomb-Making Materials Found After Fire At Queens Home; Man Charged

WCBS 880 Newsroom
September 16, 2020 - 7:50 am
Queens fire suspected bomb-making materials

Sean Adams/WCBS 880

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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — A 37-year-old man was charged after authorities discovered potential bomb-making materials at the scene of a house fire in Queens on Tuesday.

NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller said the FDNY first responded to reports of a fire around 2 p.m. at a home on 19th Street in Astoria.

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Firefighters extinguished the blaze and Miller said as the FDNY cleared the location, the landlord discovered some materials in the downstairs residence of the home that "raised some concern," which prompted the evacuation of the two-story building along with the surrounding area, including Astoria Park.

Police had issued a warning to the public to avoid Astoria Park and the surrounding streets.

The materials in question included chemicals, packages, and books and manuals about military explosives and booby traps, Miller said.

Police described the items as "pre-cursor materials" and there was no completed improvised explosive device found in the residence.

"The chemicals separately are what they are, but taken together they could assemble an explosive device," Miller said.

An emotionally distraught man, who police say was the downstairs resident, was taken from the scene to a hospital in Manhattan for observation. Miller said he was known to the department, but did not elaborate.

Police later said the man, 37-year-old Marak Squires, had been charged with reckless endangerment.

"What we know is we had a fire, we had an emotionally distraught individual who had to be brought to the hospital, we had some chemicals in certain amounts that gave us concern about what they were for and what they could make together, and some written material that we're going to have to go over and figure out what all this means," Miller said.

The bomb squad was to secure the materials and remove them to the range at Rodman Neck.

Federal agents and FDNY fire marshals continued their investigation at the home Wednesday.

Members of the NYPD's Intelligence Division, the Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Bomb Squad responded to the incident.

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