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December 11, 2017

More police at Philly, N.J. transit hubs after NYC pipe bomb incident

Police urge community to report anything suspicious

Philadelphia police bolstered its presence at the city's transit hubs on Monday after an attempted terroristic attack on the New York City subway system.

Both SEPTA and police are increasing uniformed personnel throughout the transit system and other busy areas as a precaution, Deputy Commissioner Dennis Wilson said.

There is no threat to Philadelphia, but Wilson said Philly police have been in communication with the New York City Police Department.

"We always have officers at the transportation hubs, but today we beefed it up," Wilson said. "We're diligent. We have a lot of people that spend their life trying to disrupt this type of event."

A Brooklyn man allegedly detonated an explosive device strapped to his body while walking through an underground passageway from Seventh and Eighth avenues near Times Square during the morning rush in New York on Monday. Four people were injured.

Police arrested Akayed Ullah, 27, who allegedly was inspired by ISIS but did not have direct contact with the terroristic group. Authorities said the device was a crudely-made pipe bomb.

Philadelphia law enforcement personnel urged residents to report any suspicious activity, an instruction repeated Monday morning in public address announcements on SEPTA's Regional Rail system.

"Whenever there's an incident somewhere else in the country, every police department is concerned that it's an organized effort – an attack on other cities," SEPTA Police Chief Thomas Nestel III said. "We immediately implement a higher visibility posture. We did that today."

Julie Charnet, of Philadelphia, noticed the increased police personnel when she arrived 30th Street Station to board an Amtrak train to New York.

"I saw more long rifles out in Philadelphia at 30th Street Station than I did at Penn Station," Charnet said. "They had the usual National Guard and police (in New York City), but the scarier guns were in Philadelphia. That was the only notable difference." 

In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie also ordered additional security at mass transit hubs, and urged New Jerseyans to be alert.

As usual, Philly police also have beefed up security in shopping districts, Wilson said. That will continue throughout the holiday season.

"If there is anything suspicious at all, we want the community to call 911," Wilson said. "We have a counterterrorism unit that often gets involved with these right away. ... We know we don't have time to wait until the next shift. It's very thorough."

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.