Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Rahami Story Recalls Past Tales

My mind was wandering Monday while listening to the news all day about the apprehension of Ahmad Khan Rahami and its many unusual aspects.

- The reported dispute his family had with the city over the family restaurant being open 24 hours a day reminded me of the Park Avenue restaurant that once attracted dozens of people after the bars closed. I could hear the early morning noise four blocks away. Sometimes there were gunshots, followed by ambulance sirens and in very bad instances by a helicopter to transport a victim to a trauma center. The crowds spread across the street and police had to disperse them. One strategy was to block off a parking lot on East Seventh to discourage attendees. The clatter of sawhorses became another early morning challenge to sleep. Summer nights improved dramatically once police and city officials solved the problem.

- "See something, say something" was a tough call when a certain character (since deceased) left belongings in front of City Hall quite often. There used to be a mailbox out front, but after someone (maybe the same guy) set fire to the insides, the mailbox was removed.

- I recently read Jeffrey Toobin's book about Patty Hearst and was surprised at the interest in bomb-making by radical groups in the 1970s. There were actually books with instructions that one could buy (or steal).

Monday's story included a tale of homeless men inadvertently picking up a bomb and a bar owner spotting the alleged bomber sleeping in his doorway. A broad-based team of investigators pieced things together and had the suspect in custody by mid-morning. By Monday evening, Rahami had been charged with five counts of attempted murder of police officers and weapons charges, arising from the gun battle with Linden police when he was captured. Former Plainfield reporter Mark Spivey, now with the Union County Prosecutor's Office, issued the press release.

New technology helped solve this investigation and I think Plainfield's Nixle and other communications keep us more alert in emergencies. If you are not already signed up for alerts, go to the city website and click the "Stay Connected" link at the right to sign up for Nixle and other notifications..

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