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LUPICA: Luck kept my three sons safe after Chelsea explosion

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Investigators examine the scene of yesterday’s explosion on 23rd St. and 6th Avenue on Sunday,

(James Keivom/New York Daily News)

Mike Lupica

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Sunday, September 18, 2016, 8:37 PM

It was Chelsea this time, 23rd St., a Saturday night in September in the city just beginning. My three sons happened to be in the neighborhood, having just celebrated my oldest son’s birthday with some of their friends at a place at 25th and Sixth called Rogue. From there they made a stop at a friend’s apartment, at 26th and Sixth, before they were all heading downtown to a bar in the East Village.

They were at the apartment when a dumpster exploded between Sixth and Seventh and the night exploded at the same time, and a dangerous world became their world, in real time. Of course, the event exploded on social media within moments.

“We were all like, holy s–t,” my middle son said on Sunday morning. “That was just three blocks away.”

They were not in danger when it happened. They were not on the street. The damage, to more innocent victims of an attack like this on the city, had been done by the time they were back on the street. They still were close enough, as the whole thing happens this close to the UN gathering on the other side of Manhattan.

NYPD puts city on high alert while hunting for Chelsea bomber

“An intentional act,” Mayor de Blasio said.

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New York Governor Mario Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio near the scene of the explosion on W. 23rd St. and Sixth Ave. Sunday morning.

(Luiz C. Ribeiro/For New York Daily News )

They all are.

Somebody wanted to blow up a Saturday night in New York City this time, the latest somebody with a brain filled with broken glass. By the grace of God, nobody died. Another device, unexploded, was found on 27th St. before more people ended up in the hospital, or dead. But this was a familiar soundtrack: A thunderclap of noise and not lightning behind it, just the sound of sirens.

Donald Trump, during a campaign rally, declared that it was a bomb before he knew what had really happened in Chelsea.

Donald Trump, during a campaign rally, declared that it was a bomb before he knew what had really happened in Chelsea.

(Evan Vucci/AP)

Across the country, Donald Trump got off a plane to give a speech and declared that it was a bomb before he knew what had really happened on 23rd St. But you know the drill with him by now: Say anything. So immediately he was saying, “We’re going to be tough and smart and vigilant. We’re going to end it.” Always, before the inevitable tweet about concern for the victims, comes the first instinct, which means political gain. What was really inevitable was another statement from Trump about being tough without ever saying how.

Trump offers ‘condolences’ for Chelsea blast that killed no one

Somehow Chelsea on Saturday night was about him the way Brussels was and Paris and Orlando, when he actually tweeted this out after 49 people were murdered in cold blood:

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The Fire Department was responding to reports of an explosion in Chelsea.

(James Keivom/New York Daily News)

“Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don’t want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart.”

Then what?

Injured victims are removed from the scene in an ambulance after the Chelsea explosion.

Injured victims are removed from the scene in an ambulance after the Chelsea explosion.

(James Keivom/New York Daily News)

It is as if he honestly believes that the people in charge of keeping this country safe in a post-Sept. 11 world, something that has been done magnificently across the years since the planes hit the buildings, aren’t as smart as he is about fighting bad guys.

FBI probes Uber vehicle caught in Chelsea blast

Somehow there is the implication that he alone can stop somebody from blowing up a dumpster in his city on a Saturday night, before he knows who did it or why they did it. It’s always about smartness, toughness, vigilance, even in New York City, which has been kept as safe as it has in the 15 years since Sept. 11 because of the best police force in the world and the best counterterrorism. But Trump’s followers are expected to believe only he can keep us safe. He sounds like his chief hood ornament, Rudy Giuliani, who always acted as if he was the only one who could keep New York safe from terrorism. Right. Right after the planes hit the buildings.

Front page of the New York Daily News for September 18, 2016: CHELSEA BLAST

Front page of the New York Daily News for September 18, 2016: CHELSEA BLAST

(New York Daily News)

So it was 23rd St. this time the way it was Boylston St., Boston, the day of the Boston Marathon a few years ago. Bombs in backpacks that day. Three dead, one a child. So many other lives damaged forever. And you know why the Tsarnaev brothers were caught as quickly as they were? Because of tough, smart, vigilant police work by another great police force in Boston, responding to another random act of violence, not out of the sky in Boston, but on the sidewalk. Why did it happen on one of our sidewalks Saturday night? Because it can happen anywhere.

This time it happened in a place where all sorts of young people, not just my sons, are on the street on a Saturday night, living their lives in the heart of a city they all believe is the capital of possibilities; the capital of young people just like them chasing dreams, chasing some fun, until the sound of sirens and a police lockdown on the streets all around them. These kids are tough and smart, too, but were defenseless in Chelsea when the night exploded.

“All we kept thinking,” my son said, “was the same thing: Three blocks away.”

My sons were on 25th St. on this night, on their way to 26th. Three blocks away. Far enough away to be safe, not because of huckstering from politicians, or empty promises, just because they were lucky. Others weren’t as lucky in Chelsea. It is always somebody’s neighborhood when something like this happens. This time it was theirs.

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