Saturday, January 25, 2020

Many of us who can’t go anywhere without our smartphones have started to become accustomed to the occasional AMBER Alert warning when a child is missing, or even a heads-up on a coming storm or flash-flood possibility.

Now we can add a “BOLO” alert to our handheld devices, as in “be on the lookout,” as it was this use of social media that played a vital part in the identification and subsequent capture of Ahmad Khan Rahami  just 50 hours after he timed a bomb to go off Saturday night in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood, wounding some 30 people. Earlier in the day, another one of his explosives went off in Seaside Park, N.J.

By Monday, the Joint Terrorism Task Force put out a facial photo image of its suspect. A woman in Linden, N.J. then saw someone who resembled that photo asleep near Merdie’s Tavern on Elizabeth Street. That led to Linden police officer Angel Padilla awakening the suspect and getting shot in the abdomen. Fortunately, he was wearing a bulletproof vest. Officer Peter Hammer, who responded with Padilla, was also injured in the gunfire. With backup, the Linden police captured Rahami, wounded.

In the end, the cooperation of the FBI, the JTTF, the Linden Police Department and community members helped stop this terrorist.

It is incumbent upon our community to be thankful for and appreciative of the brave law-enforcement community who put their lives on the line for us, every day. We also are grateful that law-enforcement agencies are using the most available and advanced technology available to help keep their citizens informed, alert and safe so we can act as partners with them.

We want to give thanks to wounded Linden officers Padilla and Hammer, who surely had no idea when they reported for duty on Monday morning that they’d be stopping an armed and dangerous terrorist. To all who work on the front lines of danger, keeping us safe, you have our unending support and gratitude.