By Julie Shapiro, Jennifer Glickel and Patrick Hedlund
EAST VILLAGE — A plastic garbage bag containing 10 pounds of military-grade explosives but no detonator was found in an East Village cemetery Monday, causing the bomb squad to evacuate nearby residents from their homes, police sources said.
Eight sticks of C4, which were found in Marble Cemetery on East Second Street between First and Second avenues just before 11 a.m. Monday, did not explode — and could not have exploded — without blasting caps, the NYPD said.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said at the scene that a black plastic bag containing the explosives was discovered near a tree in the rear of the cemetery by a volunteer groundskeeper Monday.
The cemetery's caretaker initially found the explosives more than a year ago while digging underground, and simply left the bag on cemetery grounds, Kelly stated.
"It looks like it's been there for a significant period of time," he noted of the explosives, adding that they had "military-type writing" inscribed on them.
"I certainly would think that it's still a very potent material irrespective of how long it’s been there," Kelly said.
A note saying "I really hope one of you find this" was written in chalk on the sidewalk near the cemetery, but no further details were avaiable, he added.
"The significance of that statement, we're not certain."
A separate note attached a police car parked outside the Ninth Precinct stationhouse on East Fifth Street made reference to Second Street and was signed by "Jesus Christ," but Kelly said investigators don't believe the note was linked to the explosives.
The C4 was transported to an NYPD firing range by the bomb squad for further investigation.
Kelly said the NYPD-FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force was not planning to investigate the matter.
Police plan to dig through the cemetery and also review available surveillance to see who may have written the chalk message on the sidewalk, he said.
The cemetery is not usually open to the public, but the site was open for tours as part of this weekend's Open House NY program on Saturday and Sunday.
East Second Street was closed to traffic and pedestrians throughout Monday afternoon.
Local residents, who were evacuated from their apartment buildings on the block, were confused as to why someone would choose their street for an explosive device.
“Why in the world would they plant a bomb on this street? There’s nothing there," said neighbor Niels Alpert, 41.
“It’s just a cemetery. I can’t imagine who would plant a bomb on this block."
A mother visiting her daughter, who is a resident of the block, said she was worried about her child's safety.
"It's a really unfortunate circumstance," said Toni Sova, 51, who was visiting from Detroit. "But I'm happy it was in the cemetery, not a building."