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Mock bomb goes off at shea stadium in terror drill { March 14 2004 }

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Mock Bomb Goes Off At Shea Stadium In Terror Drill
Exercise Is Largest Ever

POSTED: 6:22 pm EST March 14, 2004
UPDATED: 6:55 am EST March 15, 2004

NEW YORK -- A bomb went off in the seats of Shea Stadium. Police detectives hunted for suspects in the pretend chaos. Firefighters hauled out mock victims on stretchers. More than 60 hospitals filled with those playing the injured.

New York's largest terrorism drill since Sept. 11, 2001, unfolded over four chilly hours Sunday, drawing more than 1,000 police, firefighters and paramedics and an equal number of fire, police and medical trainees playing victims.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said last week's bombing of commuter trains in Madrid underscored the need for the exercise, the city's 40th designed to help city agencies improve communication and coordination in the face of a potential attack. After the attack on the World Trade Center, outside experts criticized interagency coordination, particularly between police and firefighters, as inadequate.

"What happened in Madrid is an important reminder that it's necessary," Bloomberg said.

As police helicopters growled overhead, the parking lots around Shea filled with fire trucks, ambulances and unmarked black police cars. City scientists scanned the air above the stadium with chemical and biological contamination detectors that resembled fat, high-powered telescopes on tripods.

Reports that Grand Central Parkway, the Long Island Expressway, LaGuardia Airport and Manhattan bridges and tunnels had been closed crackled over police radios.

Bomb investigators found two radiological devices in cars in the parking lots. And radio reports of an incident at Keyspan Park tested responders' ability to handle simultaneous incidents, a long-held fear of those charged with planning for New York's next potential attack.

The hunt for suspects was as intense as the effort to help the injured. Chiefs from the New York Police Department's special operations and special investigations divisions stood at the edge of a parking lot, where a "suspect" found with what one sergeant described as suspicious diagrams was frisked and interrogated.

A reporter who wandered into the off-limits area and asked for directions was mock-arrested by detectives who searched his bag and held him until a police spokesman identified him as a credentialed journalist.

The mayor, who has pushed for more U.S. homeland security funds, praised the federal government for paying the $400,000 tab for the drill.
2004 by The Associated Press.

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