(LINDEN, N.J.) — The police chief of Linden, New Jersey, is “very proud” of his officers’ preparedness after they engaged in a shootout and captured the suspect in the New York and New Jersey explosions this weekend.
Ahmad Khan Rahami was taken into custody and hospitalized Monday after the encounter with police in Linden, just hours after authorities issued an alert looking for him, the Union County acting prosecutor said.
Rahami, 28, has been “directly linked” to the devices used in the New York and New Jersey explosions on Saturday, Bill Sweeney, who heads the FBI’s New York office, said.
But Linden police chief Jonathan Parham said no one expected the Monday morning manhunt to end in their town.
“We have a phrase that we often joke about: ‘If you stay ready, you ain’t got to get ready,'” Parham told ABC News’ Amy Robach. “These officers were ready. Very, very proud of that.”
Rahami’s confrontation with police happened at about 10:30 a.m., when the owner of a Linden bar reported that someone was sleeping in a hallway of his establishment, Linden Mayor Derek Armstead told ABC New York station WABC-TV.
An officer “went to investigate and to wake him up,” Armstead said. “He realized it was the suspect and, within moments, the suspect fired on him.”
When the suspect began to engage the officers, Parham said, they “returned fire.”
“And it [the shootout] actually went down the street,” Parham said. “It’s just a miracle that no innocent civilians were hit, thank God. But it took a while to capture the suspect.”
Two officers, Angel Padilla and Peter Hammer, were injured. One of them was shot in his bulletproof vest.
Parham, who visited the officers, said they are doing well and are in good spirits.
“I am very proud of the officers,” Parham told ABC News. “They did an amazing job. It’s something that we continually train for, however no matter how much training you do you’re never really sure how you’re going to respond. These officers did a fantastic job. Thank God, they’re alive.”
Parham said he’s also thankful his officers had their bullet-proof vests, adding that they had discussed that very morning the importance of wearing them.
But, Parham added, it’s impossible to fully prepare for such a situation.
“The amount of stress that these officers were under, and the amount of time that it takes them to discern a situation and react … there’s no way to recreate that in training,” he said.
Parham said he’s also “proud of the way the officers handled themselves” and how “they came together” during the Monday morning manhunt.
“We had officers dispatch themselves from home, we had officers from other agencies show up,” he said. “I’m proud of law enforcement as a whole and how, when something happens, we just pull together to help each other.”
Officer Padilla’s brother, and fellow cop, Lt. Eddie Padilla, told reporters that his brother is his “inspiration. … I’m proud of him. He’s the reason I’m a police office, myself.”
President Obama said Monday afternoon that he spoke on the phone with the officers who apprehended Rahami.
“They are going to be fine, they sustained some modest injuries but ones that they’ll rapidly recover from,” Obama said. “They were in good spirits and I communicated to them of how appreciative the American people are.”
Rahami was taken into custody after being injured in the altercation. He is facing charges including five counts of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday there is “every reason to believe this was an act of terror.” But there is “no indication that there is a cell operating in the area or in the city.”
Sweeney, the FBI official, said, adding that “the investigation is ongoing.”
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