NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York City is taking taking new steps in the search for a suspect in connection to an explosion in Chelsea over the weekend, injuring 29 people.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said in an interview with WCBS 880 Monday morning that this was the first time the city has used the Office of Emergency Management’s city-wide alert system to send information about the suspect directly to residents’ smartphones.
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The NYPD tweeted Monday morning that Ahmad Khan Rahami, 28, was sought by authorities. He is a naturalized citizen from Afghanistan.
“This is actually the first time we’ve used this in a full-scale way when we’re seeing a suspect,” de Blasio said. “So literally this information has been sent to cell phones and devices all over New York City and the Metropolitan area.”
“Every single one of our police officers now has a cell phone, they all have the image of the individual. So we really have an extraordinary search going on right now.”
The OEM alert system is traditionally used to alert residents of inclement weather and other impending emergencies.
Linden police say Rahami was taken into custody late Monday morning after officers responded to a call of a man sleeping in a hallway of a local business.
When a responding officer approached the man, the man raised his head and that’s when the officer recognized him as Rahami, Capt. James Sarnicki with Linden police told CBS2.
“The suspect pulled out a gun and fired at the officer and striking him in the abdomen,” Sarnicki said. “The gentlemen got up and started walking down the street in a westerly direction. I’m told that he was randomly discharging his handgun and one of the officers was able to get close enough to him and return fire.”
De Blasio urged anyone with information to call authorities immediately, and to be cautious if coming in contact with the suspect.
“I want all New Yorkers to know that we need to find this individual, we need to get him in,” de Blasio said. “But recognize we should consider him armed and dangerous.”
De Blasio says that there is “not enough information” to say if Rahami was acting alone or if others were involved with the incident, and the investigation is ongoing
“We do know law enforcement has a very strong interest in him,” de Blasio said.
Speaking earlier Monday on “CBS This Morning,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said “it may very well turn out that there was a foreign connection” to the Chelsea incident, which he called “an act of terrorism.”
Security across the city has also been tightened in the wake of the incident, with more officers flooding the streets of Manhattan, providing routine sweeps and bag checks on the subway system and guarding key areas while the U.N. General Assembly takes place.
We have a very, very strong anti-terror capacity. It will be out at high levels of alert and again expanded presence on the street. So I feel very good about what the NYPD is mounting today. I think it will be visible, it will be strong and we were already anticipating a strong presence for the General Assembly…we have beefed that up further and we do have the capacity to do that,” de Blasio told 1010 WINS.
Stay with CBSNewYork.com as this story continues to develop.