Authorities have identified persons of interest in connection with the Brooklyn Bridge white flag mystery, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton tells NBC 4 New York, but the city's top cop won't say when arrests may be executed.
Officials had said they were looking for four people captured on video entering the Brooklyn Bridge around the time two bleached-white American flags were planted on the span July 22. They were found fluttering that morning from poles perched on the stone supports where two American flags are normally positioned, confusing passersby, who weren't sure if it was a publicity stunt or something more nefarious, and stumping police.
Bratton said police believe they know what happened -- and who did it.
"We believe we know who a number of the people are that engaged in that action and that investigation is moving forward and is consuming a lot of investigatory resources as it should," Bratton told NBC 4 New York. "That event should not have happened."
The police commissioner also said the investigation indicated there was "no terrorist threat" involved.
Investigators have been running license plate numbers, scouring social media, examining cellphone transmissions and collecting DNA as part of their investigation.
The high-quality flags, measuring about 11 feet about 20 feet, were made out of white linen, and the stars were individually stitched on, according to a senior law enforcement official. There were also large aluminum pans affixed over the bridge lights that normally illuminate the flags, secured with zip ties.
The NYPD obtained a small amount of DNA from the flags or tin pans that investigators planned to test. It wasn't clear if the results from that DNA test helped police identify the persons of interest.
The bridge is one of the most heavily secured landmarks in the city, constantly monitored by surveillance cameras.
The American flags fly from above the pillars year-round and are replaced by transportation workers when they become frayed about every two months, police said. They are lit from the bottom by a lamp at the base of each tower at night.
More than 120,000 vehicles, 4,000 pedestrians and 3,100 bicyclists cross the Brooklyn Bridge every day, said the city's Department of Transportation, which maintains the crossing.