New York—Two disabled veterans who sell cheap T-shirts, scarves and watches on the streets helped avert tragedy Saturday night when they alerted police about a suspicious SUV later found to contain a bomb.
Lance Orton and Duane Jackson, two Vietnam veterans who hawk cheap T-shirts, “designer” handbags, $8 fashion watches and “pashmina” scarves on the streets of Times Square, are being hailed as heroes.
After the pair reported a Nissan Pathfinder that was emitting smoke and popping sounds, police cleared busy streets and discovered the SUV contained gasoline and other explosives. Mayor Michael Bloomberg hailed the two men and offered to take them out to dinner. President Obama also called Jackson to thank him for his vigilance.
The men–who hold free special permits for veterans allowing them to sell on city streets—have become instant media stars. “All of us vets here are the eyes and ears for the cops,” Jackson told reporters. Orton brushed off reporters’ questions telling them: “See something, say something.”
By today Times Square had returned to its normal bustling scene, save for more uniformed police officers patrolling. While Homeland Security, state and local law enforcement continue their investigation of the potential terror incident, Orton and Jackson returned to selling their “I Love NY” T-shirts and “faux” designer handbags.