2 potential bombing witnesses sought
Investigators of last weekend’s bombings have released an image of two men who took a suitcase they found on a city street, possibly without realizing a wired pressure cooker they removed from it and left behind could have blown them to bits.
Police investigating the bombings in New York and New Jersey have been saying for several days they were looking for the men, who they stressed were being sought as potential witnesses in the case, not as suspects.
“They’re not in any jeopardy of being arrested,” Jim Watters, chief of the New York Police Department’s counterterrorism unit, said Wednesday. “We have no reason to believe they’re connected.”
Federal prosecutors have charged Ahmad Khan Rahami with detonating a pipe bomb in a New Jersey shore town Saturday morning and a pressure cooker bomb in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood later that night. Thirty-one people were injured in the New York blast. A second pressure-cooker bomb left in Manhattan didn’t explode and is the subject of the latest public plea.
Prosecutors said surveillance video shows Rahami rolling a suitcase down the street, then abandoning it on the sidewalk where that second device was found.
A few minutes later, two men pass by the luggage and appear to admire it, police said. They then remove a pressure cooker from the luggage, leave the pressure cooker on the sidewalk and walk away with the luggage.
“I think they were more interested in the bag, not what they were taking out,” Watters said, adding that they were “very, very lucky” the bomb didn’t explode.
In court papers, a public defender sought a court appearance for Rahami, an Afghan-born U.S. citizen, so he can hear the federal terrorism charges against him.
Rahami, 28, was arrested Monday after a shootout with police in Linden, N.J. He is being held on $5.2 million bail, and he faces state charges of attempted murder of police officers.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Rahami will be moved to New York to face federal charges in the “near future.”