The New Jersey fire marshal issued a “security alert” after a pair of Middle Eastern men walked into a fire station and asked to take photos of “apparatus” as well as do video interviews of firefighters.
This simple request caused such a stir that the men were escorted out the building and a local police department was contacted, who advised that the men should be detained next time they appear.
The security alert, which was issued by the Office of the State Fire Marshal on Tuesday, also advised that if the men appear in any other fire stations throughout the state, that employees should take secret photos of the men with cell phones to help identify them.
The alert advised that it was important to remain on “heightened alert” because of the Boston Marathon bombings, even though there is no indication it was committed by Middle Eastern terrorists.
In fact, the Saudi man they detained after the bombing, who was tackled by a citizen as he was running away from the explosions as so many others were, is now being referred to as a “witness.”
But he is probably the only witness that had his apartment ransacked by authorities as he recovered from shrapnel wounds in a hospital while remaining under guard by police.
The man and his roommate apparently consented to the search, no doubt after heavy pressure and intimidation from authorities, so there was no need for them to obtain a warrant.
We should probably expect more irrational paranoia against citizens with cameras in the wake of the bombings, even if authorities are pleading with the public for their photos and videos in the hopes to find the real culprits.
Here is the security alert:
SECURITY ALERTTuesday, April 16 2013 @ 03:35 PM EDTNEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNITY AFFAIRSDIVISION OF FIRE SAFETYOFFICE OF THE STATE FIRE MARSHALSECURITY ALERT
PO Box 809, Trenton, NJ 08625-0809 (609) 633-6070 SECURITY ALERT 13-1
Be Alert for Individuals Seeking Information About
Emergency Response Agencies
Issued April 2013
The Division of Fire Safety has received information from the Mantua Twp., Gloucester County, NJ Fire Department that on April 12, 2013 two male subjects, appearing to be of Middle Eastern descent and possibly between 25 and 30 years old walked into the fire station and asked to take photographs of the apparatus and do a video interview with personnel. They stated the reason for this was so the information could be sent back to their country. They also stated that they wanted to obtain information from local police departments as well. Personnel advised them that this request was denied based upon security concerns. When asked for ID, one said they didn’t have any. It was reported that the two men were very upset that their request was denied.
They then were escorted out of the station and a description of their vehicle was obtained. The vehicle is a 1999 Mercury Villager Mini-Van, Light Gold Metallic in color, NJ Registration UEA31N.
Personnel then notified the Mantua Twp.Police Department and requested they respond to the fire station. The Division of Fire Safety was notified and immediately notified the State Regional Operational Intelligence Center (ROIC) in West Trenton with a description of the incident.
The Mantua Twp. Police Department put out a “pickup and hold for questioning” at this time. It is believed that these individuals may have visited several area fire stations.
Fire and emergency response personnel are advised to have a heightened awareness of this and other similar incidents; especially considering the attacks at the Boston Marathon.
If an incident such as this occurs at your station, ensure that no information is provided and that any individuals are escorted out, if safe to do so. Attempt to obtain any identifying information such as physical characteristics, approximate age, tattoos, scars, clothing, accents and any other information that may be useful to police. If possible to do so secretly, a cell phone photo or video of the individuals should be taken. Additionally, obtain vehicle information including make, model, approximate year, color, and most importantly, license plate number and registration state. Local or State Police should be notified immediately and all information should be provided to them.
Please also notify the Division of Fire Safety of any similar incident that may occur at