Police found the clue that led to Ahmad Rahami, 28, a resident of Elizabeth, New Jersey, due to an alert homeowner and store owner.
The pressure cooker bomb planted on Saturday on West 27th failed to detonate. Two thieves spotted the unattended suitcase containing it, and decided to take the bag.
They removed the bomb, and left it on the pavement. Jane Schreibman, a travel photographer, spotted the pressure cooker near her front door.
“It looked weird, and I thought it was a kid’s science experiment, with wires coming out every which way,” she said. “I thought someone was throwing it out.”
Then she decided to report it to the police, who disposed of it safely. A fingerprint was left on the device which police traced to Rahami because they had his prints on file. He had spent a little over two months behind bars at Union County jail in 2014, on charges of illegally owning a weapon and aggravated assault.
A mobile phone was found attached to the fuse, which was also traced back to the Afghanistan-born American. By Sunday evening the police knew his identity.
Rahami, was found on Monday morning at 10:30am when the owner of Merdie’s Tavern in Linden, New Jersey, came across a man in the doorway of his bar bearing a strong resemblance to the Most Wanted posters.
Police were called, and as they approached Rahami he pulled out a handgun and shot one officer in the stomach. The policeman was saved by his bulletproof vest. Rahami ran off, shooting at passing cars in random as he fled – with officers in pursuit.
Rahami, blood pouring from a wound in his shoulder and leg, and with blood splattered on his face, ended up handcuffed and face down in a puddle. He was loaded onto a stretcher and taken away in an ambulance, to a Newark hospital.
In the early hours of Monday, Rahami’s flat was raided – an apartment above the First American Fried Chicken takeaway. Rahami, who came to the US aged seven, worked there alongside his father Mohammed.
The restaurant was also well known to police: since 2008 there had been accusations of noise disturbances and the late-night flaunting of licensing agreements.
In 2011, the elder Rahami sued the city, the police chief, the police force and Mr McDermott, a cameraman who lives nearby – accusing the police of harassment and Dean McDermott of stating: “Muslims should not have businesses here.”
Marcella Perrotti owner of Short Cuts salon on the same corner as the chicken shop, described the Rahami's as “misfits”. “I only went in there once, but they didn't really interact with people,” she said. “Nobody knew them.”