LINDEN, New Jersey, Sept. 19, 2016 (Gephardt Daily) — The mayor of Linden, New Jersey, has confirmed that 28-year-old Ahmad Khan Rahami — wanted in connection with weekend bombings in New Jersey and New York — was taken into custody Monday morning after a shootout with law enforcement agents.
Mayor Derek Armstead shared the news in a tweet, which also asked residents to stay inside. The tweet was posted at about 9:30 a.m. Mountain Time.
Rahami and two officers reportedly were hurt in the gun battle. Video posted by WABC TV showed Rahami, with bloody bandages on his right shoulder, being loaded into an ambulance for transport to an area hospital, where he reportedly underwent surgery.
Rahami was found after the owner of a local bar discovered him sleeping in a hallway. The bar owner, believing Rahami to be a vagrant, reported him to police.
Armstead shared the story of what happened next.
“One of our police officers went to investigate, to wake him up, and realized that he was the suspect that has been sought in the other bombings that had occurred prior,” the mayor said.
“He realized it was the suspect, and within moments, the suspect had fired on him. And thank God that he had his vest on. I think that saved his life.”
The other officer was hurt when a bullet grazed his head as he sat in a patrol car. He also was cut by shattering glass.
Rahami, a U.S. citizen originally from Afghanistan, was wanted for questioning in recent bombing cases in New Jersey and New York.
Investigators identified him from fingerprints found on a cell phone and an unexploded pressure cooker bomb.
Twenty-nine people were injured Saturday at about 8:30 p.m. when a bomb exploded in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood. Hours earlier, at about 10:15 a.m., a bomb exploded at New Jersey’s Seaside Park. No injures were reported in that case.
On Monday, the New Jersey State Police also shared a wanted poster from the FBI seeking Rahami in connection to the Seaside Park incident.
Authorities are investigating whether Rahami was influenced by or has any connections to international militant groups or the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan.
People lost no time in in congratulating the Linden Police Department on its Facebook and Twitter pages, sharing comments including, “Great job, fellas,” “Congratulations/thank you Linden New Jersey Police Department #TerroristCaptured.”
The capture was being announced on social media just as Pres. Barack Obama was live on television, assuring listeners that America was well-equipped to battle terrorism.
“On every level, we are working together, around the clock, to prevent attacks and to keep us safe,” said Obama, who added that many planned attacks have been thwarted.
Obama called the counter-terrorism teams in the United States, “… the best of the best.” He also asked Americans to report any suspicious activity they may see to help in the effort.
Obama thanked the people of New Jersey and New York for the strength they showed during and after the attacks, “…by showing those who want to do us harm that they will never beat us, and by showing the entire world we will never give in to fear.”