By Caroline Spivack
Five people stopped by the FBI and police Sunday in Brooklyn were released hours before Ahmad Khan Rahami, 28, was arrested in the bombings that injured 28 people on West 23rd Street in Chelsea and went off in New Jersey, authorities said.
Another crude bomb was found on West 27th Street along with a cache of pipe bombs in New Jersey after the explosion in Chelsea Saturday night.
Federal agents detained three men and two women for questioning on the Belt Parkway about 9:30 p.m. Sunday night as they traveled in a car that was traced to Rahami, the New York Post reported. He was captured about 11 a.m. Monday after a wild shoot-out with police in Linden, N.J. Rahami’s brother and sister were in the car, the paper said, quoting unnamed sources.
The Post also said at least one member of the Rahami family had a passport and a plane ticket, suggesting that the car was headed to Kennedy Airport so that the relative could leave the country. The suspect’s sister cooperated with the FBI during questioning, according to the paper.
“Update from the NYPD: About an hour ago, the FBI took several individuals into custody on the Belt Parkway in the area underneath the Verrazano Bridge, with a possible connection to the bombing last night in Chelsea,” state Sen. Martin Golden (R–Bay Ridge) wrote on Instagram at 10:30 p.m. Sunday.
The five were released after authorities concluded they had no role in the bombings, the Daily News reported. A pipe bomb exploded in a trash can in Seaside Park, N.J., but there were no casualties.
Rahami, a naturalized U.S. citizen, has been charged with the attempted murder of five police officers after the gun battle in Linden and was being held on $5.2 million in bail, the New York Times reported. Two officers and Rahami were injured by gunfire.
The suspect lived in Elizabeth, N.J., above a fried chicken joint run by his family.