A man suspected of involvement in a series of bombings in New York and New Jersey over the weekend – including one that injured 29 people in Manhattan – has been arrested after a shootout with cops on the streets of Linden, New Jersey.
Ahmad Khan Rahami, a 28-year-old naturalized US citizen born in Afghanistan, had been the subject of a manhunt after he became the primary suspect in the bombings. An emergency system was used to send a short to the phones of people in the area, encouraging them to keep an eye out.
deputizing everyone with an iphone in the middle of rush hour does not seem like the responsible way to do this pic.twitter.com/ZTGZ6ksIyO
He was seen within a few hours by the owner of a New Jersey bar who observed him sleeping in the hallway of his establishment. “One of our police officers went to investigate, to wake him up, and realised he was the suspect that has been sought,” said Linden mayor Derek Armstead in a press conference.
“Within moments the suspect fired on him and thank god he [the police officer] had his vest on… I think that saved his life.”
An investigation into Rahami’s possible connections to terror groups are underway, though police do not believe there is a cell operating in the area, and Rahami had not been on their radar prior. The New York Times reports that has been jailed before on a weapons and aggravated assault charge, and spent a day in jail in February 2012 for violating a restraining order.
The search for the suspect intensified after unexploded bombs were found in the vicinity of a train station in New Jersey. They followed the Manhattan explosion and a further detonation on the site of a planned charity run in NJ.
A man named Ryan McCann, who knew Rahami from when he worked the counter at his family’s fried chicken restaurant in New Jersey, told the New York Post that he is surprised. “He’s a very friendly guy, very Americanised. You would never expect anything like this. It’s terrifying because he’s been hiding in plain sight,” McCann said.
“All this guy ever talks about is his cars. He loves fixing cars up and making them fast. All I ever heard him talk about was Honda Civics, Honda Accords, maybe an Acura. He would soup them up.”