MANHATTAN — Leave the bomb, take the suitcase — and catch a plane.
That’s what investigators believe happened to two men whose "wanted" photos were distributed by the NYPD showing them walking off with the luggage that contained one of the two bombs left in Chelsea by accused terrorist, Ahmad Khan Rahami, sources said.
Since no one has come forward with any information about their identities, investigators now believe the duo could be tourists who left the city shortly after the bombing, and may not even be aware they are being sought as witnesses by authorities.
“There has not been any clues that tell us who they might be,” an investigative source explained. “They may have no idea of their involvement, even as possible heroes who caused the bomb not to explode.”
The duo — credited with apparently deactivating the device — allegedly were strolling along West 27th Street when they spotted the tan and floral patterned luggage.
They opened it, removed the duct-taped pressure cooker from inside, and then left it on the pavement, apparently in the process dislodging a flip phone from the device that was going to serve as the detonator.
“You can see them inspecting the bag, turning it around and talking about it as though they are saying it is not bad, and looks pretty good, and walk off with it,” the investigative source said.
The bomb left in a small dumpster on West 23rd Street exploded, sending shrapnel whizzing through the block and injuring nearly 30 people. But the West 27th Street device did not detonate, leaving behind critical evidence that led to Rahami’s identity, sources said.
DNAinfo New York was the first to report that the two men handled the luggage and accidentally deactivated it.
A few days later, the police released photos of the two men, hoping to question them.