What Led to the Quick Capture of NY and NJ Bombing Suspect?
After he was publically identified by police, it only took about four hours before authorities were able to find, capture and arrest Ahmad Khan Rahami, the suspect wanted in connection to the New York and New Jersey bombings.
The chaotic four hours began with a mug shot and ended in a shootout that would leave two officers injured, but one Rahami in custody.
At 7:39 a.m., the New York Police Department tweeted a mug shot of Ahmad Khan Rahami, explaining that he was wanted for questioning in connection to the two incidents involving explosions in New York and New Jersey. It was later released that video surveillance footage placed Rahami at the scene of the Chelsea blast site and also at the site of a second explosive that did not detonate. Police were also able to positively identify Rahami by a cell phone left on the undetonated device and a fingerprint.
At 7:56 a.m., many New Yorkers were awakened by a mobile alert that was sent to all devices. The mobile alert stated, “WANTED: Ahmad Khan Rahami, 28-yr-old male. See media for pic. Call 9-1-1 if seen.”
This alert would turn out to be instrumental in the capture of Rahami. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a press conference on Sept. 19 that the implementation of the mobile alert showed an “extraordinary” effort in the progression of the case.
The alert, called Notify NYC, was implemented in 2007 as a pilot program in four areas under de Blasio’s predecessor, Mayor Michael Bloomberg. According to the Notify NYC website, the alerts went city wide in May of 2009.
“We think it’s a very valuable tool,’’ de Blasio said. “We think it created a lot of focus and urgency. It definitely contributed to the successful apprehension of this suspect.’’
A few more social media posts by the City of Elizabeth in New Jersey and the New Jersey Police Department begin to help the circulation of Rahami’s mug shot. By 11:00 a.m., nearly everyone in both states had been warned in one way or another to stay vigilant and on the lookout for Rahami.
It was around 11:15 a.m. that reports of Rahami’s arrest started to surface. We would later find out that a small bar owner arrived to his building only to find Rahami asleep in the vestibule. The owner, who had been watching CNN earlier in the morning, was aware there was a manhunt underway for the man who laid in the door of his bar. He called the police immediately.
While little details are known about the instigation of the shootout, it has been widely reported that Rahami shot two officers while trying to resist arrest. Photos that surfaced of the arrest show Rahami on the ground handcuffed looked dazed. A witness told CNN that he was “down and out.”
We will never know for sure what would have happened if NYPD, NJPD and new sources hadn’t circulated the mug shot of Rahami as fast as they did. Would he still be on the run? Would police even have a chance of getting him into custody? All questions to ponder.
Fact is, the implementation of social media and mass notification devices really helped to spread the word for investigators. Like de Blasio said, the alert created a sense of urgency that, up until this point, has been hard to garner in situations like these.
Posted by Sydny Shepard on Sep 20, 2016