Police have effectively shut down Columbus Circle as they try to establish communication with a man who has barricaded himself in a vehicle. Authorities believe the man is the suspect who threw a fake bomb into a police van in Midtown last night.

Update: The suspect has been taken into custody, but police are still on the scene. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton called the officers who dealt with the fake bomb in Times Square "heroes of the NYPD, heroes of New York City." And the NYPD has released security camera video showing the suspect driving by and tossing the hoax bomb into the NYPD van:


[More updates below.]

The 1, 2, A, C, B and D trains are currently bypassing Columbus Circle.

According the NYPD, the incident began around 11:30 p.m. A police sergeant and an officer were inside a marked van near Duffy Square in Times Square, when a man in a dark SUV threw an item into the NYPD vehicle.

The item apparently made "clicking" noises and was "flashing."

Because Times Square is filled with so many people, the sergeant drove the van east on 46th Street to a less-populated area near Sixth Avenue. The cops removed the device from the van and onto the street.

After evacuating the area, the NYPD Emergency Services Unit determined the item was not a threat. According to WABC 7, it was a "battery powered lantern, a wax candle wrapped in tin foil and a white cloth."

Just after 2 a.m., police found the suspect in the SUV near 57th Street and 8th Avenue. Chief of the department James O'Neill said, "Upon stopping the SUV, a male driver was observed placing a red plastic helmet on his head. The male did not communicate with the officers, who then called for backup." A police spokesman added that the suspect was wearing a vest.

WCBS 2 reports, "At one point, police had a bomb robot next to the vehicle to try to coax the suspect out."

The suspect was identified as Hector Meneses; a witness told the Daily News, "We were sleeping by the water fountain when we heard a cop saying 'come out with your hands up.' Next thing I know a cop tells us to leave."

The NYPD is asking the public to avoid Columbus Circle:

Update: A police spokesman says the suspect was taken into custody, but the NYPD is still inspecting his vehicle:

In a press conference, Commissioner Bratton said that during the talks with police, the 52-year-old suspect said he had a device in the car. He said, "I want to die and I have a bomb strapped to my chest."

The Daily News reports, "Cops sent in an Emergency Services robot to obtain a better view of the SUV, as police unsuccessfully tried to reach his mother and his wife, sources said. Just before 8 a.m., cops used pepper spray and pulled him out of the vehicle, police and sources said."

No explosives were found. Commissioner Bratton praised the Times Square cops, Sgt. Hameed Armani and Officer Peter Cybulski, for their bravery in deciding to drive the police van, with what they didn't realize was a fake bomb, out of Times Square and away from the crowds.