CAPTURED! Man wanted in NJ, NYC bombings in custody after police shootout
LINDEN — Ahmad Kham Rahami, the naturalized Afghani immigrant wanted in New York and New Jersey bombings that disrupted communities throughout the region this weekend and injured dozens, is in police custody after exchanging fire with officers in Linden, authorities say.
Capt. James Sarnicki confirmed to New Jersey 101.5 two officers had been shot in the altercation late Monday morning. ABC 7 quoted the mayor of Linden saying Rahami had been shot as well. It was not immediately clear how badly any of those involved were injured.
Sarnicki told CBS News officers found Rahami after they responded to a call of a man sleeping in a hallway of an area business. When an officer approached, the man raised his head and the officer recognized him as Rahami, Sarnicki reportedly said.
“The suspect pulled out a gun and fired at the officer and striking him in the abdomen,” Sarnicki said, according to the report. “The gentlemen got up and started walking down the street in a westerly direction. I’m told that he was randomly discharging his handgun and one of the officers was able to get close enough to him and return fire.”
Authorities had swarmed around Rahami's last known address in Elizabeth Monday morning, hours after five explosives were found by two homeless men in a backpack in a garbage can near an NJ Transit station. One of the explosives detonated as authorities tried to disarm it.
Those explosions followed other this weekend — one in Chelsea that injured 29 people, and another before a planned Marine 5K in Seaside Park. The FBI identified Rahami as a suspect in the Chelsea shooting Monday morning, and New Jersey State Police said the Seaside Park incident was considered connected.
Authorities have not yet said whether the Elizabeth incident was also connected, though it occurred about a mile from Rahami's home and the family-owned chicken shop where he worked.
Elizabeth Mayor Bollwage said Rahami's family had owned the chicken restaurant below his last known address — and that the family had frequent clashes with local authorities. They'd wanted the chicken shop, which opened in 2002, to stay open 24 hours, and lost a legal battle against the municipality that imposed a 10 p.m. curfew, he said.
Bollwage said the family had "disturbing" interactions with the overall community. He said members of Rahami's family lived above the shop, but he wasn't sure how long Rahami himself might have. Rahami also reportedly worked at the shop.
Law enforcement officials had previously told the Associated Press at least five men were being questioned after a vehicle was detained on the Verrazano bridge Sunday night. Bollwage said information from that stop led to a search warrant for the Elizabeth home.
Rahami also has a record of arrests for violence, New Jersey 101.5 has learned.
Rahami, 28, was arrested in Elizabeth in February 2012 on a charge of contempt for allegedly violating a domestic violence restraining order, according to court records. The charge was eventually downgraded and heard in Family Court. It’s not clear what the final disposition was.
More recently, on Aug. 25, 2014, he was arrested in Elizabeth in connection with an alleged offense that happened three days earlier. He was charged with aggravated assault with attempt to cause bodily injury, unlawful possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes. He was released on $25,000 bail. A Union County grand jury in January 2015 declined to indict him, records show.
At the time, his address was listed as Harbor Terrace in Perth Amboy, not in Elizabeth.
Another person at his last known address on Elmora Avenue in Elizabeth, Najiba Rahami, 51, was arrested in 2010 on child abuse charges. Those were dismissed in 2011 after she completed a pre-trial intervention program. Her relationship to the bombing suspect was not immediately clear Monday morning.
New Jersey 101.5 is seeking more information about all of those incidents.
Rahani's arrest comes after a series of explosions this weekend
First, an explosion in the Chelsea section of Manhattan injured 29 people. Then, an explosion shortly before a planned Marine 5K in Seaside Park disrupted that event and locked down several nearby facilities. New Jersey State Police have said both of those incidents are considered connected.
Late Sunday night, two homeless men found backpacks containing explosives near an NJ Transit station in Elizabeth. One detonated while authorities tried to disarm it, but no one was hurt.
Hours later, police surrounded the Elmora Avenue where Rahami is believed to have stayed.
Two tow trucks were admitted to the scene Monday morning to remove a white Infinite and a black Toyota.
— With reporting by Dan Alexander, Dino Flammia, Toniann Antonelli, Sergio Bichao and Louis C. Hochman.
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