The 28-year-old man wanted in connection with this weekend’s bombing in New York City and New Jersey has been apprehended.
Ahmad Khan Rahami of Elizabeth, N.J., was captured following a shootout with police in Linden, N.J., officials said Monday.
During the exchange of gunfire, one officer suffered a gunshot wound to the hand and another was struck in his bulletproof vest, officials said.
Television footage showed Rahami on a stretcher being escorted into an ambulance.
The manhunt and subsequent police-involved shooting was triggered by the release of a “Wanted” poster and newly deployed electronic messaging system Monday morning in which Rahami was identified as a person of interest.
FBI Assistant Director in Charge William Sweeney said an afternoon press conference that investigators “directly linked” Rahami to devices in New York and New Jersey. He did not elaborate further.
“We will continue to investigate activity to ensure we completely understand Rahami’s social network,” Sweeney told reporters.
Authorities have yet to uncover motivations behind the twin explosions on Saturday, but New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said: “We have every reason to believe this was an act of terror.”
A bar owner in Linden, N.J. reportedly spotted Rahami sleeping outside his establishment and called police. A firefight ensued, ending with Rahami’s apprehension and injuries to two officers.
Rahami was identified in surveillance footage taken near the Chelsea neighborhood where a bomb exploded in a dumpster Saturday night in Manhattan and injured 29 people.
That blast was preceded hours earlier by another explosion along the route of a 5-kilometer Marine Corps charity run in the Jersey Shore community of Seaside Park on Saturday morning. Authorities believe both bombings are connected.
Police in Rahami’s New Jersey hometown also discovered a backpack containing multiple bombs Sunday evening.
An alert was distributed to New York City residents’ cell phones Monday requesting information concerning Rahami’s whereabouts. The message warned Rahami would be armed and dangerous. Rahami is a US citizen who was born in Afghanistan on Jan. 23, 1988, officials said.
"We have every reason to believe that this was an act of terror," Mayor @BilldeBlasio on Chelsea bombing
— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) September 19, 2016
Police departments on Long Island have been on heightened alert ever since Saturday’s incident in Chelsea.
Both Nassau and Suffolk police have intensified their patrols and been in constant contact with federal, state and local partners.
The Metropolitan Transit Authority said commuters should expect a greater uniformed presence on subway and rail lines, including the Long Island Rail Road.
New Yorkers, be vigilant. We are the most protected city in the world. You will see a very substantial NYPD presence today & this week.
— Bill de Blasio (@BilldeBlasio) September 18, 2016
“Naturally we’re always on the lookout for incidents, and we always encourage folks to report,” LIRR spokesman Aaron Donavan said, adding the railroad has been on heightened state of alert since the attacks in Paris last year and the slayings at an Orlando nightclub this summer.
In response to Saturday night’s bombing, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo directed New York State police and the National Guard to deploy 1,000 additional uniformed officers to “high-profile locations” across the state, the governor’s office said.
“Protecting the safety of New Yorkers and our state’s visitors is priority number one,” Cuomo said on Sunday.
All 29 people injured in the attack suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
All 29 people injured last night have been released from the hospital. On behalf of 8.5M NYers we wish them a full recovery.
— Bill de Blasio (@BilldeBlasio) September 18, 2016
The explosions in New Jersey and New York City also coincided with a mass stabbing inside a Minnesota mall that injured nine people. The self-declared Islamic State later reportedly claimed that the knife-armed attacker at the Crossroads Mall was a “soldier” of theirs. The man was fatally shot by an off-duty police officer.
Unlike the Minnesota incident, no known groups have taken responsibility for the weekend bombings in New Jersey and New York City.
There is “no evidence of an international terrorism connection with this incident,” Cuomo told reporters Sunday. “But it is very, very early in the investigation, and it is just starting.”
President Barack Obama, speaking in New York City on Monday ahead of his appearance at the United Nations General Assembly, said the FBI is investigating the Minnesota mall stabbing as a “potential act of terrorism.”
“We see no connection between that incident and what happened in New York and New Jersey,” Obama said.
Obama’s remarks came just minutes before news trickled out regarding Rahami’s capture.
“They want to inspire fear in all of us and disrupt the way we live, to undermine our values and so even as we have to be vigilant and aggressive…We all have a role to play as citizens in making sure we don’t succumb to that fear,” Obama said. “That kind of toughness and resoluteness, and a recognition that neither individuals nor organizations like ISIL can ultimately undermine our way of life. That’s the kind of strength that makes me so proud to be an American. That’s the kind of strength that’s going to be absolutely critical…by showing those that want to do us harm that they will never beat us.”
Newly installed NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said the investigation will broaden now that the chief suspect has been taken into custody.
“This case is very much active,” said O’Neill. “Now that we have this suspect in custody, the investigation can focus on other aspects such as whether this individual acted alone and what his motivations may have been.”
(Photo credit: Don Pollard/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)