UPDATE | Bail set at $200,000 for NYC subway scare defendant

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NEW YORK (WSAZ/AP/WNBC) -- UPDATE 8/18/19 @ 3:25 p.m.
Bail has been set at $200,000 for a homeless man from West Virginia who was charged with placing two devices that looked like pressure cookers in a New York City subway station.

Police were looking to talk to a man seen on surveillance video taking two of the objects - which police identified as rice cookers - out of a shopping cart and placing them in a subway station in lower Manhattan. (Source: NYPD)

The bail was set Sunday when Larry Kenton Griffin II of Bruno, West Virginia, appeared in Manhattan Criminal Court.

A message seeking comment was left with a lawyer for Griffin.

Griffin was scheduled to return to court Friday.

His bail was set by Criminal Court Judge Keisha Espinal two days after Friday morning's commute was disrupted by a police investigation that began after two large cooking pots were spotted at Manhattan's Fulton subway station.

The 26-year-old Griffin was charged with two counts of placing a false bomb. He was arrested Saturday in the Bronx.



UPDATE 8/17/19 @ 4:25
A man from Logan County, West Virginia suspected of placing two devices that looked like pressure cookers Friday in a New York City subway station, causing an evacuation, has been taken into custody.

According to law enforcement, the man who caused the chaos was Larry Griffin II of Bruno, West Virginia.

In the New York scare, three abandoned devices that looked like pressure cookers caused an evacuation of a major subway station and closed off an intersection in another part of town Friday morning before police determined the objects were not explosives.

Police said cameras captured a man pulling the cookers out of a shopping cart and placing them in the Fulton Street subway station near the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan.

A third cooker of the same make, year and model was found about 2 miles away on a sidewalk in the Chelsea neighborhood, prompting another police investigation.

Authorities determined they were not explosives.

Many rice cookers look like pressure cookers, which use pressure to cook food quickly — a function that has been used to turn them into bombs.

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.

Police have stressed that so far, it isn't clear if the man was trying to frighten people or merely throwing the objects away.

"I would stop very short of calling him a suspect," said John Miller, the New York Police Department's top counterterror official.

"It is possible that somebody put out a bunch of items in the trash today and this guy picked them up and then discarded them, or it's possible that this was an intentional act."

Police say they didn't have details on the man's apprehension. No charges have been announced.



UPDATE 8/17/19 @ 10:20 a.m.
A man from Logan County, West Virginia suspected of placing two devices that looked like pressure cookers Friday in a New York City subway station, causing an evacuation, has been taken into custody.

According to law enforcement, the man who caused the chaos was Larry Griffin II of Bruno, West Virginia.

In the New York scare, three abandoned devices that looked like pressure cookers caused an evacuation of a major subway station and closed off an intersection in another part of town Friday morning before police determined the objects were not explosives.

No other details have been released.

Keep checking WSAZ.com and the WSAZ app for the latest information.



UPDATE 8/17/19 @ 1:07 a.m.
Chaos broke out during rush hour in New York City after three rice cookers caused an evacuation of a major subway station and closed off an intersection in another part of town Friday morning. Police later determined the objects were not explosives.

According to law enforcement, the man who caused the chaos was Larry Griffin II of Bruno, West Virginia.

Ronnie Marcum went to school with Griffin and says he's not surprised that Griffin is making headlines.

"It's hard to tell what he might be able to do,” he said.

However, Griffin’s cousin, Tara Brumfield, says her cousin is misunderstood and dealing with mental health issues.

"Little Larry’s a good person. He’s got issues but he don’t ever mean no harm or anything,” Brumfield said. "I just, sometimes I don’t understand why he don’t use his smart for good. But the things that he does sometimes I question."

As for the rice cookers, she says he has a habit of placing objects around.

"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 said.

But she believes he could have also put them there for attention and a relative says he might have tried to go to a hospital in New York recently.

Just a few days ago she talked with Griffin on the phone and his emotions were running high.

"But he was really sad. He was scared he was like ‘I’m scared I might not be able to make it home and see my dad’ and whatever. So I could tell he was like struggling with something he was really sad,” Brumfield said.

Brumfield says she doesn’t know where he is, but is hoping everything can be resolved.

"He's not a bad guy at all he’s just got a lot of issues going on and he don’t got a lot of family and he’s got himself in a mess now to where he is by himself so now he has to deal with everything by himself,” she said.

UPDATE 8/16/19 @ 4:25 p.m.
The Logan County Sheriff's Department in West Virginia confirms Friday that a man from their county is a person of interest in an investigation concerning rice cookers being placed at the Fulton Street subway station in New York, located in lower Manhattan.

The sheriff's department also confirms that Larry Kenton Griffin II of Bruno has a criminal past in Logan County. They say he has been arrested by deputies at least three time within the past eight years. The charges range from possession of a controlled substance involving weapons to use of obscene material to seduce a minor.

According to the sheriff's department, Griffin was indicted by the Logan County Sheriff’s Department in 2017 for the charges of use of obscene matter with intent to seduce a minor and distribution and display to minor of obscene matter.

The sheriff's department said it was contacted early Friday afternoon by the FBI Joint Task Force in New York regarding Griffin. After speaking with an FBI Task Force agent, the Logan County Sheriff’s Department assisted them by speaking with Griffin's family to try and figure out where he could be. No location was determined at this time.

The Logan County Sheriff's Department also says there's an active warrant for Griffin's arrest that was issued by Judge Eric O’Briant and signed on March 18 of this year. The warrant was issued due to Griffin’s failure to report, as well as for missing drug screens as part of his pre-trial bond supervision.

In the New York scare, three abandoned devices that looked like pressure cookers caused an evacuation of a major subway station and closed off an intersection in another part of town Friday morning before police determined the objects were not explosives.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Logan County Sheriff’s Department at 304-792-8590 or 911.



ORIGINAL STORY 8/16/19
Three abandoned devices that looked like pressure cookers caused an evacuation of a major New York City subway station and closed off an intersection in another part of town Friday morning before police determined the objects were not explosives.

Police were looking to talk to a man seen on surveillance video taking two of the objects - which police identified as rice cookers - out of a shopping cart and placing them in a subway station in lower Manhattan. In photos released by authorities, the young man is seen standing by an elevator and then lugging a cooker in.

WNBC reports the man is from West Virginia. His father told the New York television station his son is Larry Griffin, of Bruno, West Virginia. "A senior law enforcement official also confirms to NBC 4 New York the identity of the person of interest," WNBC wrote Friday. "According to Larry Griffin, Sr., he has not seen his son in a while, although he calls him occasionally. When asked if his son was working, Griffin Sr. told NBC 4 New York his son was panhandling in New York."

But police stressed that so far, it wasn't clear whether he was trying to frighten people or merely throwing the objects away.

"I would stop very short of calling him a suspect," said John Miller, the New York Police Department's top counterterror official. "It is possible that somebody put out a bunch of items in the trash today and this guy picked them up and then discarded them, or it's possible that this was an intentional act."

Earlier, Gov. Andrew Cuomo had said authorities suspected the items were placed in the subway "to suggest that they were electronic devices and possible bombs."

Many rice cookers look like pressure cookers, but the latter use pressure to cook food quickly - a function that has been used to turn them into bombs.

Police swarmed the initial finds around 7 a.m. on the mezzanine and platform of the Fulton Street station, a few blocks from the World Trade Center and New York Stock Exchange. Dozens of suspicious packages are reported daily in New York City, but the proximity to the site of the Sept. 11 attacks served to heighten anxiety before police gave the all-clear.

About two hours later, a third rice cooker - the same make, year and model - was also found about 2 miles away (3 kilometers) on a sidewalk in the Chelsea neighborhood, prompting another police investigation.

"This is a frightening world we live in, and all of these situations have to be taken seriously because God forbid one day ... it's a real device," said Cuomo, a Democrat. "We learned the hard way after 9/11, and we are prepared."

Michael Oji, a New Jersey resident who works in lower Manhattan, said he's lived in the metro area for more than 20 years and saw the additional security that came to the area after the Sept. 11 attacks.

"Going to work in the morning, thinking that everything's OK, and you run into something like this, it's scary," he said just outside an entrance to the station that had been closed off by armed officers.

Multiple subway lines were partially suspended during the police investigation at Fulton Street, and delays continued throughout the morning.

Pressure cookers packed with explosives killed three people and injured hundreds when a pair of Islamic extremists detonated them during the Boston Marathon in 2013.

In September 2016, a pressure-cooker bomb went off in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood, injuring 30 people.

In 2017, a would-be suicide attacker set off a homemade pipe bomb in an underground passageway at the Times Square subway station during rush hour, seriously injuring himself.