New York bombings suspect captured after shootout sparked when he was spotted sleeping in doorway

  • Video report by ITV News Washington Correspondent Robert Moore

The prime suspect in the weekend bombing in New York has been captured after a shootout that began when he was roused from sleeping in a bar doorway by a police officer.

Ahmad Khan Rahami opened fire and hit the officer - who was wearing a bullet-proof vest - in the abdomen to spark the gun battle in New Jersey, which was partly filmed by a passing motorist.

The exchange of shots saw another officer wounded by smashed glass when Rahami fired through the windscreen of a police car. Neither officers' injuries were thought to be life threatening.

The police had been tipped off to Rahami's whereabouts after being spotted asleep at Merdie's Tavern by the bar's owner.

Rahami, a naturalised American from Elizabeth, New Jersey, was wounded several times and was taken to hospital conscious on a stretcher for surgery after being apprehended in Linden, around 20 miles outside New York.

The 28-year-old has been charged with five counts of attempted murder.

The charges stem from the shootout with police in Linden, the prosecutors office said.

Rahami was not listed on US counter-terrorism lists and was only known to the local mayor in Elizabeth, New Jersey, for his family's frequent skirmishes with neighbours over their fried chicken restaurant, which has been cordoned off since he became known to authorities.

Ahmad Rahami's family restaurant has been cordoned off and investigated in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Credit: Reuters

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said detectives were not looking for any other individual at this stage of the investigation as he confirmed at a joint news conference "we now have every reason to believe" Saturday's bombing in the Manhattan neighbourhood Chelsea was an "act of terror".

New York Police Commissioner James P. O'Neill said the investigation remains "very much active" despite the capture of the main suspect as they try to learn his possible motivations.

Authorities in the US do not believe that Rahami was working as part of a terror cell.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, said that there was "no reason to believe there is any threat from Rahami or that there is any Rahami cell.

"This threat, we believe, has been resolved, but tomorrow is another day."

The FBI said five people questioned on Sunday night are no longer in custody.

The NYPD are still keen to speak to two people seen close to the scene of Saturday's blast in the Chelsea district, who they regard as "witnesses" in the case.

The 28-year-old was left sprawled on the pavement after trading shots with officers.

The Saturday night explosion in Manhattan came hours after a blast in Seaside Park, New Jersey.

Officials are also investigating a backpack containing bombs found in a New Jersey train station on Sunday and an unexploded pressure-cooker bomb located a few roads away from the Chelsea blast site.

The backpack exploded on Monday morning as a bomb squad robot cut into the device while examining the suspicious package.

The attacks came as world leaders prepared to gather in New York at the United Nations for the annual General Assembly.

As reports of Rahami being taken in custody were being released, US President Barack Obama said he saw no connection between the explosions and a separate weekend incident where a man stabbed nine people at a mall in central Minnesota before being shot dead.

A surveillance still of Ahmad Rahami was released by the police prior to his capture. Credit: New Jersey Police Department

Rahami travelled to Afghanistan several years ago and afterwards grew a beard and began wearing religious clothing, a childhood friend told Reuters.

Flee Jones said he last saw Rahami about two years ago, when he appeared a lot more serious and quiet.

"He was way more religious," Jones said, adding, "I never knew him as the kind of person who would do anything like this."