New York – Investigators are still trying to learn how a piece of landing gear from one of the jets that crashed into the World Trade Center almost 12 years ago ended up lodged near the site of planned Islamic community center blocks away in Manhattan.
Surveyors inspecting a site between 51 Park Place – where the much -protested community center is to be housed – and 50 Murray Street discovered the large piece of metal debris. An inspector for the crew, which was hired by the owner of 51 Park Place, was on the roof of the building when he noticed the debris and called 911.
Police secured the debris, which remains lodged between the two buildings, and marked the location, about three blocks away from “ground zero” with tape as a crime scene. A member of the NYPD’s aviation unit confirmed that the serial number linked the item to one of the planes used in the attack.
Sharif El-Gamal, president of property owners Soho Properties, said the company is working with the police and the city to ensure the landing gear – marked clearly with the word “Boeing” and numbers – “is removed with care as quickly and effectively as possible.”
The landing gear stirred emotions among New Yorkers.
Ilila Tahlov, a hairdresser at a shop near the Park Place building, told the New York Daily News that the discovery brought painful memories.
“It all came back,” she said.
But others were skeptical about the debris suddenly showing up.
“I don’t believe it for one minute,” said Adam Leitman Bailey, who represents El-Gamal. “I think this is a prank, and there’s no way this all of a sudden showed up. It’s hard to believe they now have found evidence that wasn’t put there recently.”
El-Gamal, though, said Bailey does not have the authority to speak for him, and that his company is “cooperating fully with the appropriate authorities to make sure this piece of evidence is removed with care as quickly and effectively as possible.”
The piece of landing gear, wedged one story above ground, is about 5 feet high and 3 feet wide.
Van Vanable, a former One World Trade Center ironworker, said he is amazed by the discovery.
“I was part of the cleanup,” he said. “It’s still devastating to think about – how people suffered from then to now.”
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the police are also exploring the possibility that the gear was lowered to the spot, as there was a rope found intertwined in the part, the New York Post reported. But he called the part a “historic artifact,” noting that “it brings back terrible memories from anyone who was here or anyone who was involved in that event.
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