NYC blast suspect in custody after shootout

NEW YORK - Authorities say a man wanted in connection with last weekend's bombings in New York City and New Jersey is in custody following a shootout.

Authorities tracked 28-year-old Ahmad Khan Rahami down in Linden, NJ, where witnesses reported hearing gunfire. Television cameras captured images of Rahami on a gurney being wheeled out to an ambulance. He was bleeding from a wound to his right shoulder, but appeared conscious and alert. Law enforcement sources say an officer came upon a man sleeping in the entrance to a bar Monday morning and recognized him as Rahami. Gunfire soon followed. 

Earlier Monday the NYPD tweeted a picture of Rahami, saying he was wanted in connection wtih the bomb explosion in Chelsea Saturday night that injured 29.  New York Mayor Bill de Blasio told CNN's New Day that Rahami, a New Jersey resident of Afghan descent, is a naturalized U.S. citizen.

"This is someone who was likely involved in one way or another" with the Chelsea bombing, de Blasio said.

Sources are reporting that at least one police officer was wounded in the shootout, but that has not been confirmed. 

The mayor of Elizabeth, NJ says the suspect's family owned a restaurant in that town and that there had been running disagreements over code violations and other problems. 

A U.S. citizen of Afghan descent, Rahami is from Elizabeth, one of the cities which was targeted by the bomber. He was also no stranger to law enforcement. In August 2014, Rahami was charged with aggravated assault, unlawful possession of a weapon and released after posting $25,000 bail, records show. But for reasons not immediately clear, a Union County, New Jersey grand jury declined in indict him.

In 2011, Rahami's family filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Elizabeth charging that police harassed them and their eatery, First American Fried Chicken, because they are Muslims.

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The explosion happened in Chelsea, Manhattan, on Saturday. An unexploded pressure-cooker device was also found four blocks away and was being analyzed by the FBI.

Earlier Monday, a device found in a backpack near a train station in New Jersey exploded while a bomb squad robot was trying to disarm it, authorities said.

Christian Bollwage, the mayor of Elizabeth, said that two men found a bag containing five devices in a trash can at about 8:30 p.m. Sunday. The bag had wires and a pipe protruding from it.

Bollwage said the FBI was attempting to disarm one of the devices when it exploded at around 12:30 a.m. Monday. There were no immediate reports of any injuries or damage.

“I’m extremely concerned for the residents of the community, but more importantly extremely concerned for everyone in the state and country where someone can just go and drop a backpack into a garbage can that has multiple explosives in it with no timers and then you have to wonder how many people could have been hurt,” Bollwage said.

Meanwhile, New York investigators continue to comb through the scene of the Saturday night explosion that injured 29 people, looking for clues that could point to the suspects.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday that investigators so far have not found any connection to international terrorist groups and there is no further immediate threat to the city.

Cuomo said the state will be dispatching 1,000 extra state police officers and National Guard troops to patrol subways, bus terminals and airports, just to be safe.

"When you see the amount of damage, we were really very luck there were no fatalities," he said after touring the site. "Whoever placed these bombs, we will find them and they will be brought to justice. Period."

The explosion was from an apparent homemade device at West 23rd Street in the Chelsea neighborhood in front of a residence for the blind and near a major thoroughfare with many restaurants.

A second device believed to be a pressure cooker was later found four blocks away on West 27th Street and was safely removed early Sunday, according to the New York Police Department. The pressure cooker attached wiring and a cellphone had been placed inside a plastic bag, the Associated Press reported. The device was removed with a robot and taken to a department firing range in the Bronx.

A law enforcement official told the AP that the explosion that rocked the bustling Chelsea neighborhood appeared to have come from a construction toolbox in front of a building. Photos from the scene show a twisted and crumpled black metal box.

Two pressure cookers had been used in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing that killed three people and injured more than 260.

At a news conference late Saturday, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio labeled the explosion as an "intentional act" but said there was "no specific and credible threat to New York City from any terror organization."

The explosion occurred just after 8:30 p.m. ET at 133 W. 23rd St., between Sixth and Seventh Avenues. None of the injuries appeared to be life-threatening, the New York City Fire Department said. All 11 people who were taken to Bellevue Hospital for treatment had been released by Sunday morning, Cuomo said. Others were treated for scrapes and bruises. There was at least one serious injury from the incident, officials said.

A surveillance video that emerged Sunday of the explosion shows people strolling down West 23rd Street, some with shopping bags, and cars stopped at a red light. Suddenly, a fireball lights up the sidewalk and smoke billows from the site as people run for safety.

Di Blasio said there appeared to be no connection to Saturday's earlier incident in Seaside Heights, N.J., where a pipe bomb exploded near a Marine charity run. In that instance the device was placed in a garbage can. No injuries were reported, and the run was canceled.

The FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force responded to the blast and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms dispatched a New York arson and explosives task force.

Ramon Lopez was at West 23rd and Sixth Avenue when the explosion happened. “It felt like a building was coming down,” said the 48-year-old East Harlem resident.

He ran about a half-block away then turned around and ran back to the scene to help people. He spotted a woman with a metal fragment in her eye saying, “I can’t see. I can’t see.” Lopez took her by the arm to an ambulance that had just arrived on the scene.

Lopez saw other victims bleeding from small spherical fragments and metal shards.

“I was telling (the victims) it was minor, but it was major,” he said. “If I told them it was major they would collapse.”


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