Authorities in New York City have confirmed that a July 3 explosion in Central Park was most likely "an experiment with fireworks and explosives," stoking terror fears prior to Independence Day 2016.
Connor Golden, 18, of Fairfax, Virginia, reportedly stepped on a "shock sensitive" explosive inside a black plastic bag after climbing down a rock inside the park, according to the New York Daily News. Golden's friends Thomas Hinds, 20, and Matthew Stabile, 18, were also present and went into shock after the blast. None of the three men are currently considered suspects by the police.
Police have said they do not believe the explosive is tied to terroristic activities and instead think it was the work of a "hobbyist" with a knowledge of chemistry, ABC News reports. The device was created using rudimentary chemicals but lacked gunpowder.
"The Bomb Squad is looking into what made it go off, but we may never know," said an officer. "It was just bad timing that it went off when this guy landed on it."
The official noted that some of the components of the explosive were similar to "snappers," which make a large crackling sound when they are thrown against the ground.
"There were no timers or trips or wires or even shrapnel. It was not set up with any sophistication. If he was going to harm people, he wouldn’t have put it far off the path. They also would have put some nails or ball bearings in it."
Golden's foot was reportedly "mutilated" during the blast.
"His foot was gone and he handled it pretty well," Hinds said of the incident.
"He’s a tough guy... . All he said was, 'Get help.'"
Despite assurances from officials that the explosion was not an attempt at a terror attack, many Manhattan residents and park visitors were disturbed and shaken by the incident, including the fact that the park remained open after the explosion occurred.
"Police will shut down any other part of the city at any other time, so why didn’t they do it now?” said 19-year-old student Johanna Garcia.
"They will shut down Times Square in two seconds if a bomb goes off, so why is this different? They’re endangering kids’ lives. Thanks for letting us know what happened. I’m leaving now."