The New York City Police Department bomb squad say an explosive device found Monday in a historic East Village cemetery was first discovered a year ago, but was never reported to authorities.
Police say a cemetery volunteer found eight sticks of military-grade C-4 explosives in a black plastic bag under a tree around 11 a.m. in the New York Marble Cemetery, at East Second Street between First and Second Avenue.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said it was still unknown when or how the device was placed in the cemetery, but a caretaker unearthed the bag in June 2009. The caretaker did not know what was in the bag, so he left it by the tree, where it remained undisturbed until Monday.
While the device lacked a detonating component, Kelly said C-4 explosives are more powerful than TNT and were used in the 2005 bombings of the London subway system.
"This amount of material was used in the London bombings of 2005, but of course it was separate because it was four separate bombings in that case," said Kelly. "It's hard to say -- obviously inside a building it could have done a lot of damage."
On the street in front of the cemetery, police found the message, "I really hope one of you finds this" written in chalk.
"The significance of that statement, we're not certain. Obviously, an investigation is going to be conducted to see if there is any connection," said Kelly.
A handwritten note was also found on a police car outside the Ninth Police Precinct on Fifth Street, but police do not think it is connected to the planted explosives.
The private cemetery is usually closed to the public but was open this past weekend.
When the explosives were found, the block was evacuated for a few hours, rattling the nerves of residents.
"It's shocking, it's scary. It is...if you really think about it," said one neighborhood resident.
"I'm not happy about it at all because it's very wrong, especially in a cemetery," said another.
The NYPD bomb squad is currently removing the bag to a Bronx police range for further investigation.