The Nissan Pathfinder left to explode in Times Square Saturday night belonged to a Bridgeport teenager until less than a week ago when she sold it to a man who contacted her through craigslist.
Sources familiar with the investigation said the gray SUV was owned by Peggy Colas, a 19-year-old from Bridgeport. Investigators first spoke to her on Sunday when she told them she sold the car for $1,300 cash to a man she described as being of either Hispanic or Middle Eastern descent.
The Associated Press reported that the potential suspect is a man of Pakistani descent who recently traveled to Pakistan.
A source said Colas told authorities she met the man at a mall on April 28, only three days before the attempted bombing, and he gave her the cash and took the car.
Authorities tracked the man by an e-mail he had sent her about purchasing the car. Authorities have said the man who bought the car was from Connecticut. Colas could not be reached for comment Monday night.
But on her Facebook page she posted a message after being interviewed by investigators saying "OMG! I HAD A CRAZY DAY ... IT'S OFFICIAL. I HAVE BAD LUCK. SMH I HOPE THEY FIND THAT BASTARD."
Besides craigslist, Colas also posted an ad on nothingbutcars.net. In that ad she described the Pathfinder as gray with 141,000 miles on it. She further described it this way: "Recently fixed the alternator ($310.00)... It also has 2 new front tires.. the oil and spark plug has been changed recently, and it also has a new gas pump, and distributer. It does have some rust as you can see in the picture, but other than that it runs great!! $1,300 OBO."
It is not clear how a license plate belonging to another Bridgeport man's Ford F-150 pickup truck ended up on the Pathfinder. Sources said the license plate found on the Pathfinder belonged to a car owned by Elmo Jones, also of Bridgeport. Jones told authorities he had taken his truck to Kramer's Auto Body Shop in Stratford for repairs.
Authorities found Colas by tracing the history of the Pathfinder, which was sold in 2004 by Bridgeport car dealer Tony Manis. It is not clear when Colas purchased the Pathfinder.
"The joint terrorism task force recognized the sticker on the back of the vehicle that was found in Times Square to have my dealership logo on it." Manis said Monday. "So they tracked me down and found me at my home at 6:45 in the morning, asked if they could escort me down to the dealership so they could look over records. When they [told] me what they were looking for, I was more than happy to assist right away."
Sources told The Courant that investigators asked the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles for license images of the person or persons who owned the Ford truck.
The DMV declined to disclose to the media the registration history for the license plate found on the Pathfinder, as well as the history of the junkyard.
DMV officials said that the FBI ordered them not to release any information because it is a "national security" issue. On Sunday, FBI agents and state police descended on Kramer's but declined to say what they were looking for. Representatives of Kramer's, including its owner, M. Wayne LeBlanc, could not be reached for comment.
Paul Browne, the NYPD's deputy commissioner for public information, would not give details on the registered owner but said that officials were still looking for the driver.
Investigators were also looking Monday to speak with a man in his 40s videotaped shedding his shirt near the SUV where the bomb was found.
The surveillance video, made public late Sunday, shows the man slipping down Shubert Alley and taking off his shirt, revealing another one underneath. In the same clip, he looks back in the direction of the smoking vehicle and furtively puts the first shirt in a bag.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg cautioned that the man on the tape might not become a suspect but urged him to come forward.
"He may or may not have been involved," he said, adding it was a hot day and he might simply have been trying to cool off.