Alamo family recounts NYC terror threat

May 6, 2010 12:36:09 AM PDT
A Bay Area family was staying in Times Square the night a booby-trapped Nissan was discovered, but it turned into a frightening night at the hotel.

The Potozkins decided to stay right on Times Square, so they could be close to all that Manhattan has to offer, including the Broadway shows. However, their trip turned out to be more memorable than they ever imagined.

"We got a hot dog and a pretzel at a stand right in the middle of Times Square," said Monica Brar.

The Potozkins of Alamo were winding up a busy day of sightseeing and were on the way back to their Times Square hotel, when they noticed the normally packed tourist area was nearly vacant.

"We saw that there were barricades up and you couldn't pass the barricade," said Jerome Potozkin. "We thought it was going to be nothing. We thought that it was a suspicious package, a car fire."

After several hours, police let the Potozkins return to their hotel. To get there, they walked right past a Nissan Pathfinder.

"I have an image in my head of seeing five or six police officers around a big vehicle, but at that point, I had no idea what was going on," said Brar.

The Potozkins returned to their room, but only briefly before there was a loud knock at the door.

"They said, 'Sir, we're evacuating this entire side of the hotel. You've got to get out of here now,'" recalled Jerome.

With dozens of other guests, the family spent the night in a hotel ballroom. Sam, 7, admits he was scared.

"It was really freaky," said Sam.

In the morning, New York police gave the all clear. It was only then that the family learned the Nissan was rigged by a suspected terrorist with fuels and explosives, designed to maim or kill indiscriminately.

"To have that thought and that realization, that I was there with my children and this person doesn't know me," said Brar.

The next day, the two boys had their picture taken with the street vendor who first alerted police to the suspicious pathfinder.

"I'll tell you, ironically, having gone through it, I'm not really anxious or stressed out about traveling anywhere in the future," said Jerome.

The family has no fears about returning to New York and they never considered cutting their trip short. In fact, the next day, they went to see "The Lion King" at the theater that was closest to where that Nissan was parked the night before.


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