Police Continue Investigation Into Bombings In New York, New Jersey
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
A manhunt for Ahmad Rahami ended today in New Jersey with a police shootout. Law enforcement officials say he's connected to explosive devices that were found in and around New York City this weekend. One of those bombs injured 29 people in Manhattan.
Rahami has now been charged with five counts of attempted murder and two counts related to weapons possession. Other federal charges could come later. FBI Assistant Director William Sweeney says investigators are looking into Rahami's connections.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
WILLIAM SWEENEY: The fact that he survived is excellent both from an investigative value and from the fact that we didn't lose a life.
SHAPIRO: NPR's Hansi Lo Wang has been following all of these developments, and he joins us now from New York. Welcome, Hansi.
HANSI LO WANG, BYLINE: Thank you, Ari.
SHAPIRO: How did law enforcement track this suspect down?
WANG: Well, the search began on Sunday, but they only released his name, Ahmad Rahami, publicly this morning. They put out a wanted poster. There also was a cell phone alert sent out across New York to residents around 8:00 a.m. Eastern this morning.
But in the end he was found in Linden, N.J., and police won't confirm exactly how they identified him as the suspect. But they have said it involved a traffic stop last night in Brooklyn, also house searches in Elizabeth and Perth Amboy, N.J., which is about an hour south of New York.
SHAPIRO: We know that explosive devices were found in four locations. Can you take us through where they were?
WANG: Well, the first bomb that was found in that went off was on Saturday. It went off around 9:30 a.m. Eastern in Seaside Park, N.J. That's about an hour and a half away from New York south. And it was a pipe bomb that exploded in a garbage pail. It didn't injure anyone, but it went off right before a charity run for the Marine Corps.
Then less than 12 hours later, that's the bomb that exploded outside in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood. It injured 29, all of whom have been released from hospitals. But about an hour after that, there was an explosive device found floor (ph) blocks north. It's actually seen by our - one of our NPR colleagues. It was a pressure cooker wrapped in duct tape and wires. Eventually police safely removed it hours later.
But finally this morning, very early this morning, there was another package found in Elizabeth, N.J., a package with wires and pipes in it found in a trash can. And it was ultimately disarmed by a robot and went off.
SHAPIRO: And have law enforcement officials made it clear at this point whether this one suspect is behind all of those explosives?
WANG: Law enforcement have only confirmed the connections to two locations - the one that exploded in Chelsea, Manhattan, and the one exploded in Seaside Park, N.J. But the FBI has not ruled out connecting him with the other bombs at this point.
SHAPIRO: You've also been talking with New Yorkers today, getting their reactions to all of this. How are people dealing with it?
WANG: Well, we spoke with one office worker in Manhattan who works near the explosion site. Her name is Shonda Brown. Here's what she said.
SHONDA BROWN: I think that New Yorkers are really resilient, so I think that there's a little bit of close to home of the reality of this. But I think that it's just moving on. We figured out who it is and caught him, and it's like another day in life. And get on with work.
WANG: That's the voice of just one of the office workers here in Manhattan. But of course residents who live nearby in that Chelsea neighborhood - they are still affected. The block where the explosion occurred is still closed off, so it is still hard to get in and out.
But in general life seems to be getting on as normal here in New York. There certainly is a lot of increased security as a precaution. There are about a thousand state troopers and National Guard members sent in and also more NYPD police officers around in airports and also train stations. But so it's been a very busy day for them and also for our new police commissioner James O'Neill who just happened to be sworn in today.
SHAPIRO: And that's on top of all the extra security for the U.N. General Assembly that's happening this week with all of those world leaders in town.
WANG: Exactly - so a lot of heightened attention an alert on to make sure that New York City is safe going forward, and it seems that officials are saying even though the manhunt has ended, they are asking New Yorkers to be vigilant and to report any other suspicious packages they may find in the coming days.
SHAPIRO: That's NPR's Hansi Lo Wang reporting from New York City. Thanks, Hansi.
WANG: You're welcome.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.