Nassau and MTA police rushed to Merrick on Monday after a report of a “Middle Eastern-looking man” who parked under a LIRR trestle and was taking photos of it, authorities said.
An MTA officer arrived with a bomb-sniffing dog, and after a “full examination” of the man’s car, they did not find any evidence of explosives or contraband, said Salvatore Arena, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. No trains were affected.
The call about the man came about 4 p.m. on a day that an Afghanistan-born U.S. citizen, Ahmad Khan Rahami of New Jersey, was wounded and arrested in a gun battle with police after he shot two officers. The FBI in New Jersey and New York suspect Rahami planted several bombs in the area, including one that exploded in Chelsea on Saturday, injuring 29 people.
The caller said the man parked his car on Brooklyn Avenue at the trestle, just west of the Merrick station, and spent several minutes photographing the trestle, Arena said.
He then left, walking east on Sunrise Highway, and that’s when the witness called police, he said.
Nassau police arrived, called MTA police and impounded the car after it was examined at the scene, Arena said. Details on the driver’s identity and his whereabouts were not clear Monday night, he said.
A Nassau police spokesman said a vehicle with mechanical problems had its hood up under the trestle about 3:20 p.m. and was later towed. The spokesman said this was not a suspicious incident but it was not clear if this was the same incident that prompted a response with the MTA bomb-sniffing dog.