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Suspicious package closes NY subway stations

(The following story by Joshua Robin and Curtis L. Taylor appeared on the Newsday website on June 23.)

NEW YORK -- Several Brooklyn subway stations were closed during yesterday's morning rush as police investigated one of four suspicious packages found in the city.

There appeared to be no connection between the incidents or any indications would-be terrorists planted the bags to gauge police reaction, said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

"I think now there is a lot more awareness and sensitivity to the issue," Kelly said near the Staten Island Ferry.

Police closed the Brooklyn subway stations after a 911 operator received a call at 9:21 a.m. of an unattended bag at the Long Island Rail Road main waiting room at the Atlantic Avenue terminal.

Bomb Squad detectives determined that the bag was accidentally left behind, police officials said. Normal subway service resumed at 10:39 a.m.

Subways initially passed the station without stopping. But 50 minutes later, police redirected six train lines to avoid Downtown Brooklyn entirely, said James Anyansi, a spokesman for NYC Transit.

LIRR service was suspended between Jamaica and Atlantic Avenue from 9:20 a.m. to 10:49 a.m., said spokesman Brian Dolan. Seven trains were affected — four westbound and three eastbound.

The incident came several hours after police closed the Flushing/ Main Street station on the No. 7 line after authorities were alerted to white powder on at least two train cars at 1:30 a.m., police said.

Officers from the Emergency Services and Hazardous Materials unit were dispatched to the scene. The powder was determined to be harmless and the station reopened at 3:20 a.m.

Police responded to two other incidents overnight and today — both of which turned out to be false alarms, officials said.

"There is no indication they were similar or that there was any pattern of people putting down their suitcases," Kelly said.

(Staff writer Daryl Khan contributed to this story.)

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

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