Police Commissioner Ray Kelly backtracked a bit Wednesday on his claims that the NYPD could shoot a plane out of the sky, saying he was referring only to small aircraft and that the police likely couldn't take down a commercial plane.
The clarification came after Kelly told "60 Minutes" on Sunday that in a "very extreme situation" the NYPD could take out a terrorist aircraft. Wednesday, however, the top cop said he was talking about .50-caliber weapons attached to police helicopters that shoot down small planes, such as crop dusters that could be used to spread toxic materials across the city.
"A 50-caliber weapon is a powerful weapon but I don't see that as a possibility," Kelly said when asked whether the police could shoot a commercial jet out of the sky. "No. And I can't envision a circumstance where that could happen."
Kelly added that if such a decision ever had to be made he would first consult with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and federal authorities before ordering to take out a plane.
Rumors that Kelly's statements were exaggerated broke Tuesday, as the New York Daily News cited a "key police source" saying the NYPD envisioned "a small aircraft ... coming down the Hudson."
"Al Qaeda was talking about targeting the West using crop dusters. There was a specific concern about using this type of aerial spraying of anthrax and some other biological chemicals. That also led to plans to equip our aircraft," the source told the Daily News.
The NYPD didn't immediately return a request for comment.
Follow reporter Tim Herrera on Twitter: @tim_herrera