Dozens of NYPD officers found themselves in an unusual six-hour standoff after a suicidal man tossed a hoax bomb into a squad car last week.
Hector Meneses, a 52-year-old man from Queens, was caught on video throwing what appeared to be a crudely-made contraption into a police car parked in Times Square around 11:30 p.m Wednesday night:
Inside the patrol car that Meneses targeted were two NYPD cops, Officer Peter Cybulski and Sgt. Hameed Armani, both of whom reportedly feared the worst as the object landed in their vehicle.
Cybulski told reporters at a press conference on Friday:
“We both looked at each other and we knew exactly what the other was thinking without even having to say it.
[It was] a very crowded area, multiple children around, multiple families around. We’re not going to let this take out someone else with us, multiple casualties.”
“I was nervous. [Cybulski] looked at me and said ‘Boss, what are we doing?' I said ‘we’re driving, alright.’
Halfway through we said our prayers to each other and I was like, alright, if it happens it happens. I’m not going to stop here.”
They quickly moved the vehicle out of Times Square, so they could remove the device onto the sidewalk and away from pedestrians. It turned out to be nothing more than a red candle and white t-shirt wrapped in tin foil with two solar garden lights:
Once they were given the all-clear around 1:00 a.m. Thursday morning, Cybulski and Armani exited the vehicle, and the bomb squad took over.
The two men have since been hailed by NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton as “heroes of New York City”:
Around that same time, however, detectives canvassing the Columbus Circle area of Manhattan spotted Meneses's 2008 Chrysler Aspen.
Dozens of officers, including SWAT team members, were brought in to deal with Meneses, resulting in what quickly became a six-hour standoff between law enforcement and the 52-year-old Queens resident:
It was during this time that police noticed Meneses was wearing a “hunting or fishing” vest, as well as a red plastic helmet.
As a result, they used a bomb robot to check for additional devices — sensing what might have been a pressure cooker bomb in the trunk. A search of the car after he was taken into custody, however, found that it was only a pot with a cap and wires, as well as 19 LED lights.
After several hours, cops were finally able to take down Meneses with pepper spray, taking him into custody on a stretcher. He is reportedly suicidal and was taken to a psychiatric facility for treatment following his arrest.
According to CBS New York, Meneses faces several charges including reckless endangerment, falsely reporting an incident, placing a false bomb, menacing and making a terrorist threat.