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Police: Man charged in rice cooker subway scare in Manhattan

This photo released by NYPD shows Larry Kenton

This photo released by NYPD shows Larry Kenton Griffin II, the man police have arrested on suspicion of placing three rice cookers in lower Manhattan on Friday, Aug. 16, 2019 Credit: AP

The NYPD says it has arrested a homeless man suspected of placing three rice cookers during Friday's morning rush hour commute.

Larry Kenton Griffin II, of Bruno, West Virginia, was awaiting arraignment late Saturday in Manhattan's central booking after he was released from a New York City hospital where he was being treated and under observation. Police did not specify what, if any, injuries or condition he was being treated for.

The NYPD announced on Saturday evening that Griffin, 26, was charged with the placing of a false bomb. He was taken into police custody just after midnight Saturday in the Bronx, a day after he was seen in surveillance video at Manhattan's Fulton Street subway station holding one of the objects police identified as rice cookers and determined they were not explosives.

A West Virginia sheriff's department said Griffin had a criminal history in the state.

The Logan County Sheriff's Department said it has arrested him at least three times in the past eight years, including a 2017 arrest on charges alleging he sent obscene material to a minor.

Griffin's cousin Tara Brumfield told a Huntington, West Virginia, television station that he was a good person who had been dealing with mental health issues.

Offering a possible explanation for his involvement with the rice cookers, she said Griffin had a habit of picking up items in one place and putting them down in another.

"Whether it's tools or a fishing pole or something like that like 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 told WSAZ-TV.

On Saturday morning, Chief Dermot Shea, the NYPD's chief of detectives tweeted the news of Griffin's apprehension — including the word "Apprehended" over his photo.

On Friday morning, two cookers were found in a lower Manhattan subway station, along with a third one a short time later on the street near 16th Street and Seventh Avenue in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood. None of the cookers was a bomb.

Surveillance video from the downtown scene — at the Fulton Street Station in the Financial District — shows that each "hoax device" was left on the station platform by the man now identified by the NYPD as Griffin. The NYPD's John Miller, deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism, said Friday the man was wheeling a shopping cart.

On Friday, Miller had described Griffin as "a person of interest" and not necessarily a criminal suspect, noting that it is possible he was simply discarding items he didn't want anymore. 

The cookers were all the same make and model, Miller said.

"Nothing of danger has been found, and there's no indication of any further activity," Mayor Bill de Blasio said in his weekly public radio interview Friday on WNYC. "They did not pose a danger. What the motivation was, that's not yet determined." 

Police tracked Griffin down about 13 hours after releasing a flyer asking people to help them identify him. Social media posts from the department described him as a person of interest who was wanted for questioning. The Logan County Sheriff's Department said it assisted an FBI task force by speaking with Griffin's relatives in hopes of obtaining his possible location.

Dozens of suspicious packages are reported daily in the city, but the proximity of the subway station to the site of the Sept. 11 attacks served to heighten anxiety before police gave the all-clear.

With AP

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