An early morning explosion, caused by a small bomb and reminiscent of other mysterious blasts around New York City in the last few years, destroyed a sidewalk bench and shattered windows in a Starbucks coffee shop.
No one was injured in the blast, which happened around 3:30 am EDT (0730 GMT) on Monday on Manhattan's Upper East Side near the Guggenheim museum.
Investigators were looking into the similarities between the explosion and three others in the last four years, police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.
"They all happened between 3:30 am and 4:30 am, so that's the immediate similarity that we're looking at," Kelly said. "Obviously we're going to analyze the type of explosive that's been used."
The bomb went off around the same time of night as an explosion at the British consulate in May 2005, another at the Mexican consulate in October 2007 and one at the Times Square military recruiting station in March 2008.
In the previous bombings, a bicyclist was seen in the area before the explosions. No witnesses came forward immediately on Monday, and police still have to see what, if any, security camera footage is available, Kelly said.
"We don't know the motive. Obviously it is a cause for concern, but we're going to do an in-depth investigation," he said. Kelly said the explosive appeared to have been placed on the seat of the bench, but he didn't know what kind of container it was in. He said investigators would examine the remains to determine what kind of explosive it was. He said it was possible that it was some kind of firework.
Police also were looking at whether the Starbucks, a few blocks from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, was the target. The Starbucks Corp. is the world's largest gourmet coffee retailer, with more than 15,000 stores, according to a 2008 profile on its Web site.
No one at the company, which is based in Seattle, immediately responded to an e-mail or a telephone message delivered through a press hot line on Monday, Memorial Day. Gov.
David Paterson surveyed the damage at the coffee shop. "Certainly, it is alarming to have this happen, seemingly not designed to hurt people, but obviously could, and no one really knows what the motive is," Paterson said.
Residents above the coffee shop were ordered to leave their apartments but were allowed to return later in the morning. One of them, Jordan Kovnot, a 26-year-old law school student, told the Daily News, "I heard a giant noise, a big, giant noise, like a crash, and there was a flash."