Bombing suspect pleads not guilty to attempted murder

Associated Press

Elizabeth, N.J. — The man accused of setting off bombs in New Jersey and New York, injuring more than 30 people, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to attempted murder charges in his first in-person court appearance.

Ahmad Khan Rahimi, who was injured in a shootout with authorities, shuffled slowly into court in a dark-green prison jumpsuit and wearing a white skull cap. He had to be helped into his chair in the jury box by court officers. He didn’t speak during the brief proceeding.

Rahimi faces charges he tried to kill police officers before they captured him Sept. 19 outside a bar in Linden, New Jersey. He’s also accused of detonating a pipe bomb in New Jersey and a pressure-cooker bomb in New York City.

In October, an attorney entered not-guilty pleas when the Afghan-born U.S. citizen appeared via video link from his hospital bed in Newark, where he was hospitalized with gunshot wounds.

After Tuesday’s hearing, security personnel closed off the streets around the courthouse as Rahimi was whisked away in a convoy of black SUVs.

Rahimi faces five counts of attempted murder of a police officer as well as weapons offenses.

Authorities say Rahimi, who lived with his family in Elizabeth, about a dozen miles outside New York City, pulled a gun and fired on officers on the morning of Sept. 19 after a police officer in nearby Linden found him asleep in a bar doorway.

A running gunbattle ended with Rahimi shot and wounded. The officer who first came upon Rahimi was shot but saved by his bulletproof vest, authorities said. Another officer was grazed by a bullet.

The search started when a pipe bomb blew up two days earlier in Seaside Park, New Jersey, before a charity race to benefit Marines. No one was injured.

That night, a shrapnel-packed pressure-cooker bomb similar to those used in the Boston Marathon attack exploded in New York’s Chelsea section, wounding 31 people, none seriously. An unexploded pressure-cooker bomb was found blocks away.

One night later, on Sept. 18, five explosive devices were discovered in a backpack in a trash can at an Elizabeth train station — left there by Rahimi, according to police. One of the bombs exploded while a police robot was trying to disarm it. Other devices found inside were removed by investigators.