By Mathew Katz and Amy Zimmer
TIMES SQUARE — Police closed off Times Square between Eighth Avenue and Broadway from West 41st and West 43rd streets Monday afternoon for nearly an hour in response to a suspicious package.
Officers in bomb squad gear appeared on the scene as tourists and New Yorkers were forced to back away from the busy area at around 3:30 p.m., as cops cordoned off the eastern entrance of the Port Authority Bus Terminal.
It turned out to be an empty blue suitcase that was left in front of the Market Food Court on the corner of 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue. Police began to reopen the streets at 4:40 p.m.
The bus terminal remained opened during the incident, Port Authority officials said.
Onlookers snapped photos of the chaotic scene.
"I've never seen anything like this before back home," said Helga Braunstein, 43, of Germany. "This is why I came to New York. It's so big and crazy."
Vinnie Luccarelli, 33, an Upper West Side resident who emerged into the sectioned off area after exiting the AMC Empire Theater, took it in stride. "It’s OK. It's my day off. This is better than the movie."