Categorized | Bronx Neighborhoods

What Terror Threat?

A woman speaks to a firefighter at Tercela Iglesia Bautista in the Bronx

Nonfe Garcia gives members of Ladder 17, Engine 60 crosses to thank them on the tenth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Photo: Celia Llopis-Jepsen, Bronx Ink.

Bronx residents attending nine September 11 memorial services across the borough on Sunday said they were unfazed by the “credible, but unconfirmed” Department of  Homeland Security reports that al-Qaeda members were planning to use car or truck bombs against targets in New York City and the nation’s capital.

“I’m  not scared at all,”  said Paul Reverson, 18, who was attending a service at the Bronx Museum of Art on the Grand Concourse. Since terrorists haven’t struck New York since 2001, “they won’t do it today.”

Philipe Gaston, 22, whose cousin escaped from the Twin Towers ten years ago, said he felt secure because the city had ramped up its security operations over the years. “There have been so many changes as far as security is concerned,” said Gaston, who works at the information point of museum. “The security in New York just skyrocketed.”

On Friday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg informed city residents of the possible threat and urged everyone to be vigilant. “Over the next few days,” Bloomberg said, “we should all keep our eyes wide open.”

In response, Gov. Andrew Cuomo added what he called “a significant increase” in state police officers to the city.  The effect was felt in Manhattan, as security checkpoints set up by the New York Police Department brought traffic around midtown to a virtual standstill.

No roads were closed in the Bronx, however.

Amidst the extra security, Suzanne Russell and her husband gathered in Melrose at Engine Company 71, Ladder 55 to honor the nearly 3,000 victims, including 143 Bronxites,  who died ten years ago in the World Trade Center attacks. When asked about the possible threat, Russell said that no matter what happened she’d be fine as long her firefighter husband was at her side.

“Terror alerts won’t bother me this morning,” Russell said. “This time I have my husband with me. Waiting for the phone call would’ve been the worst part. But for now, we’re all together.”

Julio Gonzalez, a pastor at Tercera Iglesia Bautista Espanola in Mott Haven, gave a more spiritual response.

“We all carry the fear of another attack like 9/11,” said Rev. Gonzalez.  “But we have faith in God.”

Additional reporting by Celia Llopis-Jepsen, Diane Jeantet, and Janet Upadhye contributed to this report. 

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