Originally posted by SECTION 11
Stronso, do you know what was going on this morning on that bridge in New York? I haven't seen anything on it on the net.
Three stooges bring city to a halt
Mayor Mike: 'How stupid can you be?'
STAFF AND NEWS WIRE SERVICES
Friday was the day the Finest met the Dumbest. Police shut down the Williamsburg Bridge for about 2-1/2 hours on Friday morning after bridge workers spotted three men in their 20s who had climbed a suspension cable to the top of the span.
Turns out they weren’t terrorists, Mayor Bloomberg said, just three “stupid” men who were “sitting around drinking.”
But the report triggered a full-scale NYPD anti-terror response that snarled traffic into and out of Manhattan and in subways as well while Operation Atlas cops made security checks around town.
Specially equipped teams, including helicopters, radiation detection units and bomb squads — on high alert since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and stepped up since the U.S.-led war on Iraq started last Thursday — converged on the area.
Early accounts of the incident, plus inaccurate reports of the three men leaving a suspcious package on the Willy-B and then rappelling off it, shook world stock markets as wire services flashed the story around the world.
The three men, from West Tisbury and Allston, Mass., and Warwick, R.I., spent the night bar-hopping at three Lower East Side pubs and one after-hours club before deciding to head to the bridge.
Now that they've been arrested, they're likely headed to jail. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the men, who were in custody, could be charged with trespassing or obstructing governmental administration.
New York Police Department Deputy Chief Bruce Smolka told reporters that the men “had been drinking all night” and looked "scruffy."
One of the men told the arresting officer he had climbed the bridge once before and wanted to do it again with two friends, Smolka said.
“They had successfully defeated the bridge’s suicide gate ... we are very concerned they were able to get so far,” Smolka said.
All the city’s bridges have “suicide gates” — a metal gate with steel spikes intended to prevent people from leaving the roads or walkways of bridges.
He said the arresting police officer was alerted to the men by a jogger. Police also received a 911 emergency phone call and were told by ironworkers nearby of suspicious activity.
“What it really was was three guys who apparently got into someplace they shouldn’t," Bloomberg said. "They were just sitting around drinking, so there was no threat. These three guys are in trouble and they certainly inconvenienced a lot of people.”
The bridge, which connects Manhattan and Brooklyn, was closed in both directions after 8 a.m., backing up traffic on both sides. It was reopened at about 10:30 a.m.
The mayor said the situation showed that the city’s heightened response to potential terrorist attacks is effective.
“In the end, we did what we were supposed to do,” Bloomberg said. “Operation Atlas has been implemented. It works. We are on top of things. Its also true you shoudn’t be going on the Williamsburg Bridge, breaking into some place you shouldn’t be, and drinking. How stupid can you be?”
Police also checked other bridges, but they remained open.
In London, the Euro hit its highest level against the dollar on Friday since the start of the Iraq war on rumors that a suspicious package was found on the bridge. The dollar dropped through $1.0744 per euro to stand half a percent down on the day, its lowest level this week.