T-Shirt Vendor Saves Times Square: The May Day Car Bomb Recap


New Yorkers owe a lot to the T-shirt guy who noticed the smoking car in Times Square last night. It’s likely that he saved lives and will forever be considered a hero, that special breed of selfless city-dweller. How does he feel? Pissed, of course!

“I’m fed up,” the vendor told City Room. “We’ve been up since 6 a.m. of yesterday morning.” Can’t a guy get any sleep around here? “I’m not going to say nothing, I’m not going to say nothing,” he told reporters. Throw that on a T-shirt and sell it, dude.

But now that it’s morning, more details have emerged in the bomb scare. Here’s a rundown, but first more on the star of last night’s show. How much is the Post going to have to drop to get this guy on Monday’s cover?

He’s exactly the sort of reluctant icon New Yorkers deserve — irreverent, pissy, “fed up.” He refused to give his name, but wore a name tag that said Lance Orton. (We’ll respect his wishes and not call him that.) But he’s got swagger:

He walked with a limp, had a cane, wore a white fedora and had a hoop earring in his right ear.

When asked if he was proud of his actions, he said: “Of course, man. I’m a veteran. What do you think?”

The vendor said that he had served during the Vietnam War and had been selling wares on the street for about 20 years.

“I don’t have too much of a choice, nobody’s giving me a job,” he said.

Noticing smoke from an SUV around 6:30 p.m., the vendor alerted police, who smelled gunpowder and immediately ordered an evacuation of the area.

“I did a lap around the vehicle. The inside was smoking,” the officer told the Daily News. “I smelled gunpowder and knew it might blow. I thought it might blow any second.”

Mayor Bloomberg, still in his Nerd Prom tux, held a 2 a.m. presser along with Gov. David Paterson and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. “We are very lucky,” he said. “We avoided what could have been a very deadly event.”

Police sources listed the contents of the car, which was left running, as “three propane tanks, two red 5-gallon plastic jugs of gasoline, a clock, electrical components, and a canister of gunpowder.” According to the Times and the mayor, “the device ‘looked amateurish.’ ”

As for suspects:

Officials said they had no reports of anyone seen running from the vehicle. Mr. Kelly said police were scouring the area for any additional videotapes but noted that the S.U.V.’s windows were tinted, which could further hamper any efforts to identify those inside. Some of the surveillance cameras nearby were located in closed businesses, and the mayor made clear it would take time to review all available tapes.

“We have no idea who did this or why,” Mr. Bloomberg said.

We’ll keep the new info coming as we hear it, but in the meantime, give thanks to our mighty T-shirt vendor:

When asked what hero’s knowledge he wanted to impart on New Yorkers, T-shirt guy knew just the thing. “See something, say something,” he said.