Larry Griffin

Drew Angerer/Getty Images/NYPD

West Virginia Man Charged, Bail Set At $200,000 After Subway Bomb Scare

August 18, 2019 - 6:35 pm
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NEW YORK (WCBS 880/AP) -- A West Virginia man with a history of run-ins with law enforcement has been charged a day after two devices that looked like pressure cookers sparked a scare at a Manhattan subway station.

Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea tweeted Saturday morning that a man seen holding one of the rice cookers in surveillance video was taken into custody.

He was identified as 26-year-old Larry Griffin II. He appears to be a native of the tiny town of Bruno, West Virginia.

He was found unconscious in the Longwood section of the Bronx Saturday morning and taken to Lincoln Medical Center, where the NYPD says he's being treated and observed. 

Griffin is charged with three counts of placing a false bomb. 

A $200,000 bail was set Sunday when Griffinn appeared in Manhattan Criminal Court. Griffin was scheduled to return to court Friday.

His brother, Jason Griffin, told the Daily Mail that his 26-year-old sibling is mentally ill and homeless. He said his brother tried to check himself into a psychiatric hospital just days ago but was refused admittance.

“He is bipolar and has never been medicated. We come from the South with not a lot of parental instruction from the family. He needs to be medicated,” Griffin said, according to the Daily Mail.

The Logan County Sheriff's Department in West Virginia says it has arrested Griffin at least three times in the past eight years, including once in 2017 for allegedly sending obscene material to a minor.

The sheriff's department says a warrant for Griffin's arrest was issued in March after he missed drug screenings as part of pretrial supervision.

His cousin told WSAZ in West Virginia that Griffin has been known to place different objects in random spots. 

"Whether it's tools or a fishing pole or something like that like he'll pick up one thing and leave it there and then pick up another and then leave it there and I've watched him do stuff like that a bunch of times," the cousin, Tara Brumfield, told the station.

“Little Larry’s a good person. He’s got issues, but he don’t ever mean no harm or anything,” she said.

The discovery of the cookers Friday led to an evacuation and roiled the morning commute.

Police said cameras near the World Trade Center captured a man with a cart putting cookers in two locations in the subway station.

A third cooker of the same type was later discovered 2 miles away on a sidewalk.

Police stressed at a news conference on Friday that it wasn't clear if the man was trying to frighten people or merely throwing the objects away.

"I would stop very short of calling him a suspect," said John Miller, the New York Police Department's top counterterror official.

"It is possible that somebody put out a bunch of items in the trash today and this guy picked them up and then discarded them, or it's possible that this was an intentional act."

Police tracked Griffin down about 13 hours after releasing a flyer asking people to help them identify him. Social media posts from the department described him as a person of interest who was wanted for questioning. The Logan County Sheriff's Department said it assisted an FBI task force by speaking with Griffin's relatives in hopes of obtaining his possible location.

Dozens of suspicious packages are reported daily in the city, but the proximity of the subway station to the site of the Sept. 11 attacks served to heighten anxiety before police gave the all-clear.

Multiple subway lines were partially suspended during the police investigation, and delays continued throughout the morning.

Many rice cookers look like pressure cookers, which use pressure to cook food quickly — a function that has been used to turn them into bombs.

Pressure cookers packed with explosives killed three people and injured hundreds when a pair of Islamic extremists detonated them during the Boston Marathon in 2013.

In September 2016, a pressure-cooker bomb went off in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood, injuring 30 people.

In 2017, a would-be suicide attacker set off a homemade pipe bomb in an underground passageway at the Times Square subway station during rush hour, seriously injuring himself.