A car explosion at the Rainbow Bridge, a border crossing between the United States and Canada, on November 22, 2023, was captured on video.
You can see videos and photos of the Rainbow Bridge car explosion throughout this article. The bridge is located near Niagara Falls, New York. Sources told Fox News the car explosion was an attempted terror attack, although authorities later denied this.
Fox later seemed to walk back that claim, quoting New York Governor Kathy Hochul as saying the explosion involved a local person and quoting her as saying, “There is no evidence at this time that this was a terrorist activity. And that’s what I want to make very clear to the public.” The scare came after the explosion near Niagara Falls. However, authorities don’t believe it involves terrorism at this point, CNN reported.
The FBI’s Buffalo office later confirmed that authorities don’t believe terrorism is involved and did not find explosives in the vehicle.
“A search of the scene revealed no explosive materials, and no terrorism nexus was identified,” the FBI’s Buffalo office said in a statement. “The matter has been turned over to the Niagara Falls Police Department as a traffic investigation.”
Here’s what you need to know:
The People Who Died in the Explosion Were Identified as Kurt P. Villani & His Wife, Monica Villani
The couple who died in the explosion were later identified by Niagara Falls police as Kurt P. Villani and his wife, Monica Villani, both 53, of Grand Island, New York. Kurt P. Villani was part of a family that built a lumberyard empire in the area. He was a registered Republican, and his wife was a registered Democrat, according to state records.
According to CNN, investigators think the car explosion involved a man and his wife who were in a Bentley going “at a high rate of speed,” and both were killed in the explosion.
CNN reported that the car hit a curb, which precipitated the explosion.
The man in the Bentley lives in New York State and “had plans to attend a KISS concert in Canada but when it was canceled, went to a casino in the US instead,” CNN reported.
The FBI Buffalo Field Office confirmed that it “is investigating a vehicle explosion at the Rainbow Bridge, a border crossing between the US and Canada in Niagara Falls.”
“We don’t really know too much – just that there was a vehicle trying to come into the US and they shut down both sides of the bridge,” Aaron Ferguson, public information officer for the city of Niagara Falls, told CNN.
On November 20, 2023, CBS News reported that the network had “learned Monday of increased threats of a possible terror attack in New York City as a direct result of the escalating violence in the Middle East.”
The Car ‘Sped Onto the Bridge Plaza’ & Drove Through a Fence Before Exploding, Reports Say
The FBI wrote on X that it “is coordinating with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners in this investigation. As this situation is very fluid, that’s all we can say at this time.”
According to the Niagara Gazette, two occupants in the car were killed and a border patrol agent suffered non-serious injuries.
The newspaper reported through law enforcement sources that the car was “traveling down Niagara Street,” when it “sped onto the bridge plaza, went through a fence separating the inbound lanes from the outbound lanes, and toward the inspection lanes where it exploded.”
A Witness Said the Car Left a 7-Eleven Convenience Store Parking Lot Shortly Before the Rainbow Bridge Explosion
Ivan Vitalii, a visitor to Niagara Falls from Ukraine, told the Niagara Gazette that he was at a 7-Eleven convenience store when a car left the parking lot and drove toward the bridge. He said it was the same car he later saw “on fire near the entrance to the bridge.”
“We heard something smash,” he said to the newspaper. “We saw fire and big, black smoke.”
Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority released a statement that read, “In response to the incident that is unfolding at the Rainbow Bridge, the NFTA is increasing security system-wide. Cars coming into the Buffalo Airport will undergo security checks and travelers can expect additional screenings. The buffalo and Niagara Falls Airports are fully operational. We advise travelers to give themselves time for these extra precautions in addition to holiday travel.”
New York Governor Kathy Hochul wrote on X, “At my direction, @nyspolice is actively working with the @FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force to monitor all points of entry to New York. I am traveling to Buffalo to meet with law enforcement & emergency responders & will update New Yorkers when more information becomes available.”
Explosives Were Not Discovered in the Vehicle, the FBI Says
Fox News reported that explosives were discovered in the vehicle, but the FBI’s Buffalo office later said this was not true.
According to Fox News, all border crossings between Canada and Northwestern New York were briefly closed, and government buildings were evacuated. There are four points of entry between Canada and New York, according to the U.S. government.