A “homemade” explosive left in Central Park for more than 24 hours blew off the foot of a college student Sunday, authorities said, raising fears on the eve of the Fourth of July.
Connor Golden, 18, of Fairfax, Va., had just climbed down off a rock near E. 60th St. and Fifth Ave. about 10:52 a.m. when he stepped on the “shock-sensitive” explosive, Lt. Mark Torre, the commanding officer of the NYPD’s Bomb Squad, said. It was inside a black plastic bag when it exploded, a high-ranking police source said.
A disintegrated matchbook was found nearby, leading investigators to believe that someone tried to set it off sometime Friday, but left it behind when it didn’t work, the high-ranking police source said.
There was no evidence the incident was connected to terrorism, NYPD Deputy Chief John O’Connell said. Police officials believe it is an isolated incident.
“The explosion could have been an experiment with fireworks or homemade explosives,” O’Connell said. “We believe this could have been put here as some sort of experiment.”
One witness said the victim’s foot was “all but gone.”
Another said the blast sounded “like a cannon.”
Hinds, a student at Northwestern University, had just stepped off a large rock in the park with Golden behind him when the blast went off.
“I got down the hill and boom, my ears were ringing. I felt a wave. A gust hit me in the back,” Hinds told the Daily News in an interview from the 19th Precinct stationhouse.
“I turned around and saw him on the ground with his foot bleeding. It just demolished his foot. His foot was mutilated.”
Golden groaned on the ground but remained conscious.
“His foot was gone and he handled it pretty well,” Hinds said. “He’s a tough guy. .. . All he said was, ‘Get help.’”
Hinds repeatedly insisted the group had no fireworks or other explosives — something he’d told detectives police for over an hour and a half.
“It seemed like he stepped on something that was pressure-sensitive,” Hinds said.
NYPD spokesman Peter Donald tweeted there is no credible threat “to NYC or the Fourth of July festivities.”
“The three men have been cooperating and are at this time not considered suspects,” he said.
The item was not made of gunpowder, but of rudimentary chemicals, the high-ranking police official said.
“The Bomb Squad is looking into what made it go off, but we may never know,” the source said. “It was just bad timing that it went off when this guy landed on it.”