Psych exam ordered for man in Times Square fake-bomb scare

AP News
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Posted: Jul 27, 2016 8:32 PM
Psych exam ordered for man in Times Square fake-bomb scare

NEW YORK (AP) — A man accused of flinging a fake bomb into a police van in Times Square is headed for a psychiatric examination to determine whether he's fit to stand trial.

A judge ordered the exam Wednesday as Hector Meneses was arraigned by video from a hospital where he's been held since his arrest last Thursday. Meneses is due back in court next month for the results of the psychiatric exam.

When officers caught up with him after the bomb scare, he engaged them in an hours-long standoff in a prominent intersection near Central Park while falsely claiming to have explosives strapped to him, police said.

Meneses, 52, hasn't entered a plea to the false-bombing and false-reporting charges. His lawyer didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.

Sgt. Hameed Armani and Officer Peter Cybulski were in a parked, marked police van when a passing driver lobbed an object through the van's open window, security video showed. The device, wrapped in a white T-shirt, made a clicking sound and had lights that flashed faster and faster, according to a court complaint.

"Boss, this is a bomb," Cybulski said, he recalled later that day as he and his partner were lauded for their fast-acting bravery in handling the scare.

Rather than fleeing for their own safety, they drove the device away from crowds before taking it out of the van.

"We're not going to make it," Armani recalled thinking, "but I'm happy nobody else is going to get hurt."

The object proved harmless, made of a red candle, two solar-powered garden lights and tin foil, police said.

Police said officers caught up with Meneses about a mile away at Columbus Circle, where he barricaded himself in his SUV. He said he wanted to die, purported to have a bomb strapped to a vest he was wearing, donned a red helmet and held a household remote-control device as if planning to use it to detonate something, police said.

After police used a robot to scan Meneses' vehicle and tried to talk him out during several hours, SWAT officers pepper-sprayed him and pulled him from the vehicle, Chief of Department James O'Neill and Manhattan detectives' Chief William Aubry said last week.

While Meneses didn't have a bomb, he did have 19 more garden lights and a capped pot with wires coming out, seemingly meant to simulate a pressure cooker bomb, police said.