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FBI: Rainbow Bridge crash, explosion not connected to terrorism

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(NEW YORK) — The two passengers who were killed in the Rainbow Bridge incident have been identified as husband and wife, according to a Department of Homeland Security document obtained by ABC News. One of the victims was a Western New York resident, Gov. Kathy Hochul said.

“DHS has conducted database queries on both individuals and found no criminal history or derogatory information,” the document said.

The FBI said Wednesday night it was turning the car crash and explosion that occurred at the border earlier in the day to the Niagara Falls Police Department as a traffic investigation.

“FBI Buffalo has concluded our investigation at the scene of the Rainbow Bridge incident. A search of the scene revealed no explosive materials and no terrorism nexus was identified,” a statement from the agency read.

The agency’s conclusions echo what Hochul told the media: there was no evidence that the crash on the U.S. side of the Rainbow Bridge, which connects the U.S. to Canada at Niagara Falls, New York, was a terrorist attack.

She also told reporters there was no indication of any explosives at the scene.

A vehicle raced toward a border checkpoint on the U.S. side of the bridge, hit a booth, exploded and went airborne, Hochul said.

“You actually had to look at it and say, ‘Was this generated by A.I.?’ because it was so surreal to see how high in the air this vehicle went and then the crash and explosion and the fire,” she said.

One booth agent was injured in the incident and was treated for their injuries at a hospital. They were released later in the day, Hochul said.

“It was a very congested area,” Hochul said, adding, “It could have been very cataclysmic.”

Hochul told the media the investigation would take some time as much of the vehicle was destroyed and debris was scattered over 13 booths.

“There is not a license plate,” she said.

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas posted a statement on X shortly after Hochul’s news conference, reiterating that the incident did not appear to be terror-related.

“We will continue to closely coordinate with state and local officials,” he wrote.

Investigators found some sort of suitcase or briefcase on the scene, sources told ABC News. They were treating it as a possible explosive device as a precaution earlier in the day, and the bomb squad handled the package.

The Rainbow Bridge was closed in the wake of the incident, according to Hochul.

The Peace, Queenston-Lewiston and Whirlpool-Rapids Bridges in Canada reopened to traffic in both directions later in the evening. They had been closed earlier out of an abundance of caution, authorities said.

As the situation unfolded, the Buffalo Niagara International Airport said it would increase security with car checks and additional screenings for travelers.

President Joe Biden was briefed on the explosion, White House officials said.

“We are taking this extraordinarily seriously,” Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Trudeau said. “We are following up to try and get as many answers as rapidly as possible. … Additional measures are being contemplated and activated at all border crossings across the country.”

In Toronto, the police department said it would increase patrols out of an abundance of caution.

In New York City, Mayor Eric Adams said he was monitoring the incident.

Adams said the NYPD had already enhanced security for Thanksgiving “so the public will see increased security at locations across New York City, including entry and egress points into and out of the city.”

 

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