2004-10-01 / Community

Terror Fear Closes Atlantic Beach Bridge

The Atlantic Beach Bridge was closed late last Friday night after Nassau Police arrested a disturbed Vietnam vet with bomb-making substances in his van nearby, police said.

The bridge, which connects Far Rockaway to Atlantic Beach via Seagirt Boulevard and State Highway 878, was closed for nearly 12 hours because police suspected a terrorist plot.

Members of the Orthodox Jewish community frequently cross the bridge on foot during Shabbos (Friday night into Saturday), and Route 878 in that area is heavily traveled on a number of major east – west streets as residents move between their homes and synagogues.

Cops made the chilling find on the eve of Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement – regarded by many as the most important holiday on the Jewish calendar.

A Nassau County police officer, riding southbound on Route 878 saw a van parked in the reeds nearby the Seagirt Boulevard exit, which connects Route 878 to New York City streets.

The officer found a man, dripping wet, nearby the car. The man said that he had been swimming and went back to the car to change his clothing.

The officer, suspicious of the man’s motive for being in the water nearby the bridge, checked the parked van.

Hippocrates Koutsoupakis, 56, of 29 Street in Long Island City, allegedly had potentially explosive liquids, batteries and a stun gun in his van. Police later recovered homemade grenades and a handgun from his home, police said.

Koutsoupakis was charged with first-degree criminal possession of a dangerous weapon and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon.

After investigating, police said Koutsoupakis didn’t appear to be affiliated with a terrorist group, according to other published reports.

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