It may have been a hoax explosive, but the NYPD officers sitting in their vehicle as a deranged man threw in a suspicious object didn't know that.
Instead of running for the hills, two brave men in blue hit the accelerator with the object still terrifyingly close, to ensure none of the hundreds of people in a Times Square intersection got hurt — or worse.
"We were scared," Officer Hameed Armani, an immigrant from Afghanistan, said at a Thursday press conference about the seven-hour stand off that began with the bomb hoax. "We thought we were gone."
Before that happened, the duo was determined to do the job they're sworn to do: Save lives.
"We knew what each other was thinking," the other officer, Peter Cybulski, recalled. "We're not gonna let this take anyone else out."
So Cybulski said they turned on their siren and "did what we had to do."
The heroes sped a block and a half away, as one of them even held the object, before coming to a halt as far away from Manhattan crowds as possible. Now, they're being named among the best of the best.
"These two officers are heroes of the NYPD, heroes of New York City," Commissioner William Bratton tweeted.
The overnight stand-off dragged into Thursday morning at Columbus Circle, one of New York City's busiest subway hubs, after a man allegedly tossed what turned out to be a battery powered lantern, a wax candle wrapped in tin foil and a white cloth through the NYPD van window late Wendesday.
The suspect took off in an SUV, police say. He was reportedly spotted in the vehicle near Columbus Circle at about 2 a.m., kicking off an overnight negotiation between the man and police.
“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,” NYPD Chief of Department James O’Neill told reporters Thursday.
According to police, police used a remote-controlled bomb robot equipped with a camera and mircophone to speak to the suspect as he sat in the SUV.
As the negotiation continued into Thursday morning, police presence and barricades snarled traffic and made commutes miserable for thousands as subway lines were diverted away from the area.