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LA Connection to NYC Times Square Bombing*

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Photograph of police investigating the explosion scene in Times Square by Mary Altaffer/AP

Update 8:25am, 3/7: "Laura Eimiller, an FBI spokeswoman in Los Angeles, said an individual was questioned there about the letters to Congress and "there is no evidence linking the letters, which contained no threat, to the bombing," according to ABC7.

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This morning's explosion in New York City's Times Square has a possible Los Angeles connection in the form of a return address on letters claiming responsibility that were sent to members of congress.Around 3:45 a.m., EST, this morning, a device exploded outside the military recruiting center in Times Square. No one was injured, but a glass entryway was shattered.

WNBC reported that police were searching for a "suspect seen on a bicycle fleeing the scene after the blast" -- a witness saw a man wearing a grey jacket with a hood "pulled tight with a drawstring."

According to WABC, police say the device was an improvised explosive, a "green ammunition can" with a low level of explosive. A hotel guest at the Marriott Marquis nearby said, "I was up on the 44th floor and I could feel it. It was a big bang," while another said, "It shook the building. I thought it could have been thunder, but I looked down and there was a massive plume of smoke so I knew it was an explosion."

Later today, California Senator Dianne Feinstein's office sent an email (below) to other lawmakers regarding a letter their office received today claiming responsibility for this morning's bombing. The letter contained a photo of the Army recruiting center "before it was bombed and...the words 'We did it,' according to WNBC.

"A few offices on the House side have received a letter today addressed to 'Members of Congress' with a picture of a man standing in front of the Times Square recruiting station that was bombed in New York today with the statement 'We did it.' He is standing in front of it with his arms spread out and he's attached his political manifesto." [Via AP]

The email also advised people not to open the letters and contact the police. The letter had a Los Angeles return address, but a staffer "said it was not possible to determine if it was genuine."

As for the letters, eight House Democrats representing NYC received letters; it's possible more were sent. An email sent to Congress members warned them about receiving the letters:

Attention All Members of the Congressional Community Within the past twenty-four hours, a number of letters have begun arriving at various Congressional Offices on Capitol Hill. The letters contain a reference to the military recruiting office in New York City. At this time, none of the letters received, have contained any threat to the Congressional Community or Members of Congress.

All of the letters have properly passed through Congressional mail security screening procedures before arriving at various Congressional Offices and have been determined to be safe.

These letters can be identified in the following manner:

* All envelopes received have all been manila in color and are approximately five inches by eight inches in size.
* All envelopes have two (one dollar) stamps affixed to them and a white label with a return address.

The United States Capitol Police want to preserve any possible evidence. Therefore, in the event that any envelopes arrive at your Congressional Office, please respond in the following manner:

1. Do not attempt to open the envelope.
2. Immediately contact the USCP Command Center at 22X-XXXX

The Command Center will have an officer dispatched to your office to take possession of the letter. Because this is an ongoing criminal investigation, please do not forward this email or release information outside your immediate office."

So much for not forwarding the email. The Capitol Police's statement said, "The U.S. Capitol Police and the FBI are working together to investigate letters received by various members of Congress. There is no established connection between these letters and the NYC Times Square incident this morning. The investigation is ongoing...more details as they become available."

Last October in New York City, grenades were thrown at the Mexican consulate, and, in 2005, an explosive was set off outside the British Consulate.

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Photograph of damaged door by dhfdz on Flickr

Gothamist Editor Jen Chung contributed to this story

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