LINDEN, N.J. — A Muslim man who is suspected in the planting of several bombs in New York City and New Jersey was taken into custody on Monday morning following a shootout with police.
Ahmad Khan Rahami, 28, was captured in Linden, New Jersey after being shot in the shoulder during the encounter with police. Rahami is of Afghan descent and lives in nearby Elizabeth.
He became a suspect in the weekend bomb attacks after his fingerprints were found on the explosive devices. Rahami’s home had been raided earlier in the day. He lives above his family’s restaurant, First American Fried Chicken.
“We need to get this guy in right away,” Mayor Bill de Blasio told CNN. “My experience is once the FBI zeroes in on someone, they will get them.”
Several bombs planted in New York and New Jersey are believed to be connected to Rahami, the first of which exploded inside a trash can in Seaside Heights, New Jersey on Saturday night. Hours later, a pressure cooker bomb attached to a flip phone exploded in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City, injuring 29.
On Sunday night, five bombs were discovered inside of a trash can near the Amtrak station in Elizabeth, New Jersey. One of the bombs detonated as the FBI used a robot to disarm the devices, but no one was hurt.
After investigators identified the suspect through his fingerprints on one of the devices, as well as via surveillance video in Chelsea, an alert was issued for residents to be on the lookout for Rahami.
“He’s a very friendly guy, very Americanized. You would never expect anything like this. It’s terrifying because he’s been hiding in plain sight,” acquaintance Ryan McCann, 33, told the New York Post.
According to reports, the owner of a local bar called police on Monday after he found someone sleeping outside of his establishment—who turned out to be Rahami.
“One of our police officers went to investigate and to wake him up, and realized that he was [Rahami], the suspect that had been being sought in the bombings,” Linden Mayor Derek Armstead told local television station WABC. “He realized it was the suspect and, within moments, the suspect fired on him. And thank God that he had his vest on. And I think that was very helpful for him. I think that saved his life.”
At least two officers were injured in the shootout, as well as Rahami. Video footage and photographs show the suspect on a stretcher with an apparent gunshot wound to the shoulder.
The Rahami family had filed a lawsuit against Elizabeth officials in 2011 after being cited for keeping their business open past 10 p.m., alleging that they had been told by a resident “you are Muslims” and “Muslims make too much trouble in this country.” They also asserted that police wrongfully acted “solely on animus against [their] religion, creed, race and national origin.” The case was dismissed the following year.
Police are now seeking to obtain a motive in this weekend’s multiple bomb plantings, as well as information as to whether Rahami acted alone or if he is part of a terror network.