Volume 17 • Issue 9 / July 23 - 29, 2004



Waiting for officer involved in pipe bomb inquiry

Despite a brief appearance by his brother, the police officer who heroically cleared subway passengers from harm’s way after discovering a pipe bomb in the 42nd Street station and has subsequently become the focus of an N.Y.P.D. investigation, avoided his Mulberry St. apartment and media attention Thursday.

Outside Joseph Rodriguez’s apartment, there was little activity besides several news trucks parked across the street, near the rear entrance of the historic Puck building. Late in the afternoon, Joseph’s brother, Alberto, hurriedly exited the building with the brim of his baseball cap pulled over his eyes. He shoved the camera of a Downtown Express photographer. Carrying several bags, he refused to answer questions about Joseph before being whisked away in the back seat of a livery cab.

Monday evening, Joseph Rodriguez, a member of the Manhattan Transit Task Force, warned commuters heading towards the A,C and E platform after discovering a bag that contained a pipe bomb. Rodriguez, who suffered minor injuries from the homemade explosive that detonated at about 8 p.m., was being released from the N.Y.P.D. on a psychological disability pension before he officially retired Wednesday. Reportedly, Rodriguez suffered from emotional trauma after rushing to the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

A combined police and Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms search of his apartment Wednesday evening indicated that the police investigation had shifted its focus to Rodriguez, although he has not been charged with any crime.

On a street where the most common sight is stylish women in sunglasses toting shopping bags from the nearby boutiques, neighbors and storeowners seemed to know little about the 27-year-old Rodriguez.

“I didn’t know who he was,” said Rocky Kim, a clerk at the Houston Village Farm deli just a half a block away. “When I saw in the newspaper and learned that he lived on the block I was stunned.”

— David H. Ellis



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