Man Charged in Connection With Rice Cooker Scare, Police Say – The New York Times

The police on Saturday charged a man in connection with placing three rice cookers — two in a subway station and one in a Chelsea neighborhood — setting off a bomb scare that disrupted the morning commute on Friday, officials said.

The man, identified by the police as Larry K. Griffin II, 26, was taken into custody in the Bronx early on Saturday.

He was charged with three felony counts of placing a false bomb — one count for each of the rice cookers, the police said. A motive for the placement of the rice cookers remained unknown.

The episode began around 7 a.m. on Friday after the authorities were alerted to two suspicious appliances at the Fulton Street subway station. An hour later, the police were alerted to a third suspicious device near a garbage can in the Chelsea neighborhood.

Around 10 a.m., officials announced that all three devices were empty rice cookers and were not dangerous. All three were the same model rice cooker, officials said.

Mr. Griffin, a former resident of Bruno, W.Va., was seen on video leaving two devices on the subway platform at the Fulton Street station and his photo was widely distributed.

John Miller, the New York Police Department’s deputy commissioner for intelligence and counterterrorism, said officials did not know why Mr. Griffin had placed the rice cookers in the subway. He said they could have been trash “and this guy picked them up and discarded them.”

A local sheriff’s office in West Virginia said in a news release that it had been contacted by law enforcement officials about Mr. Griffin. The release said Mr. Griffin had been arrested at least three times in the past eight years.

Charges in West Virginia against Mr. Griffin included possession of a controlled substance involving weapons and use of obscene material to seduce a minor. He also had an active warrant for his arrest for failure to report and for missing drug screens as part of his pretrial bond supervision, the release said.

Around 5 p.m. Friday, Mr. Griffin called his brother, Jason Griffin, in Connecticut, and said he was scared and unsure of what to do as the police were searching for him.

Mr. Griffin, who moved to New York from West Virginia in May, has a history of mental illness and had been living on the streets, Jason Griffin said.

“He thinks being homeless is fun,” Mr. Griffin said on Friday. “He was collecting stuff and he said that he found three rice cookers in front of a sushi restaurant.”

Tara Brumfield, Mr. Griffin’s cousin, told television station WSAZ News Channel 3 that Mr. Griffin had a history of picking up items.

“Whether it’s tools or a fishing pole or something like that he’ll pick up one thing and leave it there and then pick up another and then leave it there, and I’ve watched him do stuff like that a bunch of times,” she said.

The episode on Friday, which disrupted the morning commute, called to mind other bombings.

In December 2017, a man detonated a homemade pipe bomb in a subway passage near the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan. The device failed to fully detonate and the attacker was the only person injured.

In 2016, at least 29 people were injured when a pressure cooker containing shrapnel exploded in Chelsea. Blocks away, a second device was found and disarmed.