The federally convicted bomber who detonated explosive devices in New York City and a Jersey Shore town over the course of a single weekend in 2016 has been sentenced to life in state prison for attempting to kill the five Linden Police Department officers who apprehended him shortly after the bombings, acting Union County Prosecutor Lyndsay V. Ruotolo and Linden Police Chief David Hart jointly announced Friday.
State Superior Court Judge John M. Deitch handed down the term for 31-year-old Ahmad K. Rahami, a.k.a. Ahmad K. Rahimi, of Elizabeth, during a sentencing hearing in Superior Court today. The sentence comes after a jury found Rahami guilty of five counts of attempted murder, one for each of the officers, as well as aggravated assault and weapons offenses, in October 2019.
The case arose when police officers encountered Rahami in Linden, on the Monday following the bombings. A little before 10:30 a.m. on the morning of September 19, 2016, the owner of Merdie’s Tavern, locatedon East Elizabeth Avenue in Linden, called police to report that an unknown male later identified as Rahami was sleeping in the vestibule directly outside the bar’s front door, according to Union County Assistant Prosecutors Albert J. Cernadas, Jr., Meghan Tomlinson, and Milton Leibowitz, who prosecuted the case.
Responding to the call, a uniformed Linden police patrolman arrived at the scene and recognized Rahami as the subject of a BOLO (Be On the Look Out) advisory issued by federal authorities in connection with the bombings, earlier that same morning. That officer radioed for backup and approached Rahami, who immediately produced a 9mm handgun and shot the officer in his chest, striking him in his protective vest.
Additional patrol officers responding to the scene engaged Rahami. Rahami continued shooting at the officers as he fled, ultimately firing 20 rounds at the police, until he was stopped outside of an auto repair shop on East Elizabeth Avenue, several blocks west of where he was initially approached.
Rahami’s handgun was recovered at the scene, and he was immediately transported to a local hospital for emergency treatment, as were the first responding officer and another Linden police officer who was struck in the head by a fragment of a bullet fired through his vehicle’s windshield by Rahami.
According to Ruotolo, “This defendant tried to murder members of our law enforcement community, and the sentence imposed by the Court today holds him accountable for his violent acts. This case stands as a testament to the bravery of Investigators Hammer and Kahana, Officers Padilla, Diaz, and Guzman, and the many other Linden police officers who risked their lives for the safety of others. Their conduct that day is an example of the selflessness shown by officers throughout Union County each and every day.”