NEW YORK — New York police gave the "all clear" Friday after investigating a suspicious vehicle spotted in lower Manhattan near Union Square.
"It's all clear," a New York Police Department spokesperson told AFP.
Two gas canisters were seen late Thursday in the back of an Oldsmobile Cutlass near the 14th Street and Irving Place intersection, close to the busy Union Square subway station, police said. Officers roped off large portions of the area with yellow police tape.
Dozens of police and firemen were at the scene with a bomb squad. A remotely-controlled robot moved in on the vehicle and popped its widows open, producing a large boom. A bomb squad team member approached the vehicle while wearing a heavy green protective suit.
Police said they were leaving the scene after the car's owner, who owns a landscaping business that provides lawn mowing and other services, explained why he had the gas canisters in the vehicle.
"It looks like we got two gasoline cans in the backseat of the car. But it looks like it's not going to be anything dangerous," said NYPD spokesman Paul Browne. "We contacted the owner and he gave an explanation."
Browne said police evacuated the area as a precaution because the suspicious vehicle was parked in front of the headquarters of Con Edison, a major energy company.
Nerves have been on edge in New York -- hit by the September 11, 2001 attacks -- ever since police found a large, but malfunctioning car bomb on May 1 in Times Square, a tourist destination that is one of the country's biggest intersections.
"It was freakin' intense," Bridget Gabbe told AFP about the scene she watched from the window of her apartment.
"Seven police came to our door and they told us to leave. It wasn't 'take your time.' It was, 'you have to go,'" the 22-year-old actress said.
Pakistani-born US citizen Faisal Shahzad, 30, has still not appeared in court or been seen in public since his dramatic arrest as he attempted to fly from New York to Dubai two days after his botched bombing plot.
On Thursday, federal agents arrested at least three people suspected of funneling money to the failed Times Square car bomber during a series of raids across the US northeast.
The Washington Post reported that Pakistan had arrested a Pakistani man suspected of being Shahzad's accomplice.