A 5K charity race in Seaside Park, New Jersey was called off Saturday after a bomb exploded in a nearby garbage can

By Dave Quinn
Updated September 17, 2016 03:40 PM
Credit: Ocean County Prosecutor's Office

A 5K charity race in Seaside Park, New Jersey, to benefit the U.S. Marine Corps was called off Saturday morning after what police call “a pipe bomb-type device” exploded in a nearby garbage can.

Ocean County Sheriff Michael Mastronardy confirmed to USA Today that no one was injured when a trash can exploded around 9:35 a.m. on the corner of Ocean Avenue and D Street.

The Third Annual 5K Semper Five race was set to begin at 9:30 a.m., with a One Mile Fun Run beginning a half hour prior. Its route passed right by the location of the accident – about .7 of a mile away from the race’s starting point.

Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office spokesman Al Della Fave said on Facebook that the start of the run was delayed, which avoided a large number of runners in the area at the time of the explosion.

The delays were due to late sign-ins, NBC 4 New York reports.

Authorities initially thought there was a second device but no additional threats were found after bomb-sniffing dogs completed a sweep of the area, ABC News reports.

Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Arson Unit, FBI, ATF and NJ State Police Bomb Squad are assisting in the investigation.

Della Fave told ABC News that the device was too sophisticated to be a prank, but that investigators were unsure if the bomb was an act of terrorism or criminal conduct. “We don’t know what the individual’s agenda is,” he said.

“It’s obvious it was meant to affect the run, the fact that it went off at 9:35,” he added.

The bomb contained two to three pipe bomb devices wired together, Della Fave told ABC News, but only one went off.

“Out of extreme precaution, this year’s Seaside Semper Five has been cancelled due to an unidentified suspicious backpack found at the race side,” read a message posted to the race’s website and social media accounts. “The safety and security of our participants, spectators, staff and volunteers is of utmost importance.

Before the incident, the race’s official Instagram account had posted video of the scene, calling out the “perfect conditions” for the race.

Belmar mayor Matt Doherty tweeted that police presence will be immediately increased for the weekend.

“Belmar DPW has inspected and cleared all garbage cans and will bring them in overnight in response to seaside heights explosion,” he added.

Seaside Park resident Lauren Rispoli told NBC 4 New York the explosion would not deter the spirit of the people in the beachfront town.

“We will support this run again next year here or wherever they choose to do it,” she said. “Even if it’s next year – we’re not afraid. We’re not going to let this stop us.”

The 5K Semper Five benefits the MARSOC Foundation – a non-profit organization that, according to its website, raises money to support “active duty and medically retired MARSOC personnel and their families as well as to the families of Marines and Sailors who have lost their lives in service to our Nation.”