Donors Give Over $30,000 to Homeless Man and Friend Who Discovered NJ Bombs
Scores of people are paying tribute to the two men who discovered the explosives in New Jersey last weekend and helped thwart a potentially more dangerous attack.
When Lee Parker spotted a backpack lying on top of a trash can outside the Elizabeth train station last Sunday, he thought it was his lucky break. It just so happened that Parker, who was homeless, needed a bag for his job interview the next day, not wanting to have to show up with the blue plastic shopping bag he had been using as a hold-all.
“All of a sudden we look on the garbage can and on top of the can there was a pretty new backpack,” said Parker’s friend, Ivan White, a retired veteran. “Just sitting on top!”
The two picked up the bag and walked around for a while. But when they opened it up, they realized something was not right.
“I said we need to go to the police station right now because this is a bomb,” Parker told ABC7. “It wasn’t the cartoon bomb with a tick-tock tick-tock clock but it had wires. I had seen enough pictures of pipe bombs and different devices in books, magazines. I knew what I was looking at as soon as I saw it.”
Parker and White took their findings to the police, who discovered that the bag held as many as five pipe bombs. One exploded when authorities used a robot to dissemble it.
“They probably saved hundreds of people,” Elizabeth Mayor Christian Bollwage said of Parker and White.
Donald Goncalves, a lifelong resident of Elizabeth who works with local nonprofit At Heart’s Length, agreed. He set out to thank the men, setting up a GoFundMe page for anyone who wanted to pitch in with donations. By early Monday morning, the page had almost 1,000 donations totaling more than $30,000.
As for Parker, another nonprofit has already found him an apartment, Goncalves told The Washington Post. He wasn’t able to make it to his interview for a truck loader position last Monday, but another company in the area has already been in contact to offer him a job.
Asked about the public outpour of support, the two friends said they would have reacted the same way as anyone else.
“I’m just glad I was able to realize what the situation was and react in such a way that, thank goodness, no one got hurt,” said White.
“Hero? No. I wouldn’t go that far,” said Parker. “[I was] doing the right thing.”