A powerful explosion rocked the bustling Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan on Saturday night, shattering windows and causing widespread panic among the citizens of the New York City. The investigators ruled out a natural gas leak as the origin of the blast, which occurred near a rolling dumpster on West 23rd Street near Sixth Avenue.
Fortunately, there were no casualties.
Later, the authorities found another suspicious device four blocks away.
Here is what we know about the tragic incident so far.
What caused the blast?
Officials said the blast was caused by a homemade bomb placed under a dumpster. Both devices were filled with shrapnel and made from pressure cookers, flip phones, and Christmas lights that set off an explosive compound, according to The New York Times.
Where was the second device found?
BREAKING PHOTO! Here is the second device found by a NYSP Sgt. At 27 street and 7 Ave. investigation is ongoing pic.twitter.com/x7o9Rr30I3— New York City Alerts (@NYCityAlerts) September 18, 2016
Two state troopers performing a sweep of the area found the device on West 27th Street between Avenue of the Americas and Seventh Avenue almost three hours after the initial explosion.
The police moved the device to a firing range in the Bronx, where they rendered it safe. The FBI would examine the device further at its lab in Quantico.
What was the significance of the locations?
The officials are still investigating why these particular sites were selected.
What was the motive?
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio called the explosion "an intentional act.” However, so far, the authorities have not disclosed if they have found a motive behind the blast.
Was it an act of terrorism?
Unlike many instances in the past where such incidents were immediately blamed on Muslims or international terrorists, the officials have responsibly restrained from pointing fingers at anyone.
Yet Mayor Bill de Blasio did call this an act of terror" in a press conference on Monday.
Were there any injuries?
According to the fire department, 29 people were hurt by the blast, though none of the injuries were life-threatening. In fact, all 29 people were released from area hospitals by Sunday morning.
Is there a connection to a similar incident in New Jersey?
On Monday, an explosive device blew up a garbage can near a train station in Elizabeth, New Jersey, after a bomb squad robot cut one of the wires on the mechanism. It was one of five explosives found at the site in a backpack, according to the officials. Surveillance footage and fingerprints linked Rahami to the explosives.
Has there been an arrest?
Police arrested and charged Ahmad Khan Rahami on Monday. The 28-year-old suspect was found asleep at the doorway of a bar in New Jersey. After a shoot-out with law enforcement, Rahami was taken to a hospital in Newark for multiple gunshot wounds. He was charged with seven counts and his bail was set at $5.2 million. Law enforcement is not actively seeking any other individual.
Rahami is a U.S. citizen born in Afghanistan. He was arrested in 2014 for weapons possession and aggravated assault for stabbing someone in the leg in a domestic incident, according to The New York Times. He spent three months in jail but was not indicted. He was also arrested for unpaid traffic tickets in 2008 and violating a restraining order in 2012.
Rahami traveled back to Afghanistan about four years ago and changed dramatically. According to his friend, rapper Flee Jones, his cheerful demeanor disappeared and he began wearing traditional Muslim clothing, grew a beard, and prayed during work. He also traveled to Pakistan where he married a Pakistani woman, a U.S. official disclosed to CNN.
Rahami worked at his family's fried chicken restaurant in Elizabeth, New Jersey. First American Fried Chicken was the source of frequent noise complaints from neighbors dating back to 2008. Rahami's brother and father filed a lawsuit in 2011 over alleged Islamphobic harassment from the community. The lawsuit cites civil rights violations by the city, the police department, a neighbor, and business owner over the restaurant's business hours. A city ordinance requires retail establishments to close after 10 p.m. The Rahamis claimed police officers and a local business owner “embarked on a course of conduct to harass, humiliate, intimidate, retaliate against force [the Rahamis] to close their business by 10 p.m." Mayor J. Christian Bollwage forced the restaurant to close at 10 p.m. The civil lawsuit is still ongoing but was stayed in 2015.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, WABC-TV