At a press conference Thursday afternoon, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York Police Department Commissioner Ray Kelly told reporters that they had been informed by the FBI that the two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, had discussed a plan to attack New York City.
"Last night, we were informed by the FBI that the surviving attacker revealed that New York City was next on their list of targets," Bloomberg said. "He told the FBI, apparently, that he and his brother had intended to drive to New York and detonate additional explosives in Times Square."
Previous media reports had indicated that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving borther, had revealed the plan to investigators who had questioned him in the hospital, before he had been read his rights. At Thursday's press conference, Kelly said that the brothers had come up with the plan to target Times Square "spontaneously," and that they had discussed it while driving around Cambridge, Mass. in a Mercedes SUV they had carjacked.
"That plan, however, fell apart when they realized that the vehicle that they hijacked was low on gas and ordered the driver to stop at a nearby gas station," Kelly said. "The driver used the opportunity to escape and call the police. That eventually led to the shootout in Watertown, where the older brother was killed in an exchange with gunfire with the police."
According to Kelly, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was photographed in Times Square with friends on or before April 18, 2012, and visited the city again in November 2012.
"We don't know if we would have been able to stop the terrorists had they arrived here from Boston," Bloomberg said. "We're just thankful we didn't have to find out that answer."
In a report published earlier Thursday, NBC News had reported on the brothers' New York City plans, which one law enforcement official described as “aspirational at most.”
Update 3:38 p.m.: An unnamed federal official who spoke with The New York Times on Thursday characterized the Tsarnaev brothers' New York City plan as "stream of consciousness as opposed to, ‘Bomb Boston, then bomb New York.'”
“How this thing flows is they hijack the car, they get $700 from this guy, and basically, they have gas money, and they say, ‘Now we can go to New York and use the rest of the explosives,'” the official told the Times.