TIME Crime

Police See Blasts in New York City and New Jersey as Connected

Ahmad Khan Rahami, 28, is being sought in connection to the Chelsea bombing

Authorities said Monday that the explosions in New York City and New Jersey over the weekend are connected and that they are seeking the same man in connection with both blasts.

Ahmad Khan Rahami, 28, is being sought in both the New York bombing, which injured 29 people on Saturday night in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, and an explosion in Seaside Park, N.J., on Saturday morning.

New York police put out a photo of Rahami on Monday morning, hours after a separate device in New Jersey exploded while it was being disarmed by a bomb robot. New Jersey State Police also released photos of Rahami and said via Facebook that he is wanted for questioning in connection to the Seaside Park explosion, in which a pipe bomb exploded ahead of a 5K charity race.

“I want to be very clear that this individual could be armed and dangerous,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday morning. “Anyone seeing him should call 911 immediately.”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that the bombing could be act of terrorism with a foreign connection, reversing an earlier statement that it wasn’t related to international terrorism.

“There may very well be a foreign link,” he told CBS This Morning.

Authorities described Rahami as 5-foot-6 and weighing 200 pounds. He was born on Jan. 23, 1988 in Afghanistan, and his most recent address was in Elizabeth, N.J., according to the FBI.

On Sunday night, FBI agents in Brooklyn stopped “a vehicle of interest” in the investigation of the Manhattan explosion, according to FBI spokeswoman Kelly Langmesser.

She wouldn’t provide further details, but a government official and a law enforcement official who were briefed on the investigation told the Associated Press that five people in the car were being questioned at an FBI building in Manhattan.

Shortly after the blast in Chelsea, authorities found an unexploded pressure cooker device blocks away. Earlier that day, a pipe bomb exploded in Seaside Park, N.J., forcing the cancellation of a military charity 5K run, but there were no injuries. And on Sunday evening, five explosive devices were discovered near a train station in Elizabeth, N.J.

One of those suspicious devices, found in a trash can, exploded early Monday as a bomb squad was attempting to disarm it with a robot, officials said.

Elizabeth Mayor Christian Bollwage said that the FBI had been working to disarm the devices, which were all found in a bag discovered in a trash can by two men around 8:30 p.m. Sunday, near the Elizabeth train station on New Jersey Transit’s Northeast Corridor rail line. The men had reported seeing wires and a pipe coming out of the package, Bollwage said.

There was no immediate report of injuries or damage. A message left with the FBI wasn’t immediately returned. The mayor warned that other explosions were expected.

Investigators didn’t immediately comment on whether they thought the Elizabeth incident was connected to either of the two Saturday blasts.

NJ Transit service was suspended early Monday between Newark Liberty Airport and Elizabeth, and New Jersey-bound Amtrak trains were being held at New York Penn Station, officials said, while New York-bound Amtrak trains were being held in Trenton.

Train passengers reported being stuck on Amtrak and NJ Transit trains for hours Sunday night, while some trains moved in reverse to let passengers off at other stations. Amtrak said 2,400 passengers were affected and that trains were being brought into other stations for people to get other transportation. It wasn’t clear when the Elizabeth station would be open, a threat to cause major issues on the Monday morning commute into New York.

Bollwage said that he wasn’t willing to say that Elizabeth had become a target, and that it was possible that someone worried about the authorities was trying to get rid of the package.

“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.

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