Four local police officers say they tackled the man who had just detonated a bomb in a New York City subway corridor as he tried to reach for his phone, fearing he might use it to detonate another device.
As smoke filled the underground pedestrian walkway that connected the Port Authority and Times Square subway stations during peak hour on Monday in Midtown Manhattan, four Port Authority Police Department officers ran towards the danger.
Akayed Ullah, a disgruntled Bangladeshi immigrant who had made a low-tech pipe bomb in his Brooklyn apartment, managed to detonate the chemical component yet the pipe failed to shatter.
It was enough to make a loud explosion, sending commuters in the busy walkway beneath 42nd Street and 8th Avenue scrambling for the exits.
When PAPD officer Anthony Manfredini, who was patrolling the area, saw people running and screaming, he immediately started running to where they were coming from.
The former Marine, who had spent time in a bomb unit, was followed closely by officers Sean Gallagher, 26, also a former Marine, Drew Preston, a former Army member, and Jack Collins, a lawyer.
"New York City could not have had four better people on the scene at that time," another police officer told the Daily Beast.
They found Ullah lying in foetal position with his blue hoodie blown open, his mid-section smouldering and wires coming from his jacket to his hand, Bobby Egbert, spokesman for the Port Authority Police Benevolent Association, told local radio station 1010 WINS.
"The person on the floor was reaching for his cell phone. The officers at that point had to make a decision so no one else would be hurt and they decided... to take the person into custody," he said.
"There was a struggle with him, they had to keep him from reaching the cell phone, obviously they had no idea what he was going to do with the cell phone."
Paul Nunziato, president of the Port Authority Police Benevolent Association, said that the four officers "struggled with the suspect and denied him the ability to cause further chaos and destruction".
It was not the first time Port Authority officers had dealt with a terror attack. In the September 11 attack, 37 of them died when they ran into the burning World Trade Centre, the biggest loss suffered by a police department on a single day in American history.
Ullah, 27, was rushed to hospital with serious burns and lacerations to his abdomen and hands.
He has allegedly spoken candidly to investigators from his hospital bed, telling them that he chose the Port Authority walkway because it had Christmas-themed posters, thereby invoking similar terrorist attacks on Christmas markets in Europe, the New York Times reported.
He admitted to committing the act as retribution for US bombing of Islamic State fighters in Syria and elsewhere.
He said he made the bomb at home using instructions in an al-Qaeda magazine and used a piece of pipe he found at a job site in Midtown where he had recently worked as an electrician.
Yet Ullah only managed to injure himself in what authorities have described as a failed Islamic State-inspired suicide bombing.
On Tuesday, local time, New York authorities charged Ullah with making a terroristic threat, supporting an act of terrorism and criminal possession of a weapon. It's expected that federal charges will also be filed.
It came as police in Bangladesh questioned his wife and revealed that the couple have a six-month old son in Dhaka.
The former hire car driver, who migrated to the US in 2011 on a family unification visa, lived with his parents and brother in a Bangladeshi enclave in Brooklyn, where locals described him and quiet, unremarkable and sometimes unfriendly.???