(CANVAS STAFF REPORTS) – “I’m not a celebrity, I’m just an average Joe,” Lance Orton told the New York Daily News Sunday night from his apartment in the Bronx. But this average Joe is being hailed as the savior of Times Square.
Orton is one of the street vendors who alerted police to the suspicious dark-colored SUV that contained a home-made bomb, reported The New York Times . Orton sells T-shirts near the area in which the car was parked.
He and Duane Jackson, a handbag vendor, were the first to notice that something was strange about the car. Jackson told MyFox NY’s ‘Good Day NY’ co-host Greg Kelly : “When the smoke started, I realized there might be more to this than meets the eye.”
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg had dinner on Sunday night in Times Square with Jackson and NYPD Officer Wayne Rhatigan, who was alerted by the vendors and was the first to begin to clear the are around the SUV. Orton, though passed on dinner with the mayor, according to MSNBC.com .
According to Reuters , New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg praised Orton: “Lance Orton saw something and did something about it.”
Orton said in a TV interview after the incident that he’s been a street vendor for 22 years. Walking with a limp and wearing a Monster energy drink T-shirt, he said of his vending position: “I don’t have too much choice. Nobody’s giving me a job.”
Surrounded by reporters as he walked to a taxi on Sunday morning, Orton was a bit surly, claiming: “Part of my reason for having this attitude is I’ve given some of you interviews before and you wrote the opposite of what I said in the paper, so that’s my problem with you.”
When asked if he was proud of his actions, he said: “Of course, man. I’m a veteran. What do you think?” As he got into the cab, the Vietnam vet said his advice to the city of New York was: “See something, say something.”
Now Orton is being mentioned in news articles around the world. His family members are also being sought out.
Miriam Citron, the mother of Orton’s son, told the New York Times that Orton would regularly alert police if something didn’t look right: “When he was in Vietnam, he said they had to make decisions and judgments from their gut, from their own feelings … His instinct was telling him something’s not right.”
Orton’s mother, Jean Jarrett, told the Daily News : “I’m sure he saved a lot of lives.”