Two men the FBI are seeking to question as witnesses to Saturday’s bombing in New York City were caught on surveillance video pulling a pressure-cooker explosive out of a suitcase that was left on West 27th Street.
And they were none too gentle, a person who saw the tape told NBC News on Thursday.
“They don’t seem to handle the pressure cooker with any kind of delicacy, as they would if they had any clue of what it was,” the source said.
Luckily for them, the bomb — which the men stumbled on just after an explosion four blocks away on West 23rd Street ripped through the Chelsea neighborhood and injured more than 30 people — didn’t go off in their hands, police have said.
A dozen fingerprints belonging to 28-year-old Ahmad Khan Rahami, the New Jersey man accused of planting both bombs and two more in his home state during a weekend of terror, were found on the device, investigators told NBC News.
There were also prints from other people — yet another reason why the FBI wants to find the men and the suitcase they marched off with, the investigators said.
An Afghan immigrant who lives in Elizabeth, New Jersey, Rahami was arrested Monday after a shootout with police in nearby Linden that left both the suspect and two officers wounded.
Police initially reported that Rahami was wounded 11 times in the arm, shoulder and leg. It turns out he was also shot in the torso, and one round narrowly missed a vital organ, sources said.
Rahami is expected to survive and remains sedated and intubated at University Hospital in Newark, the sources said.
Rahami has been charged with federal and state charges that could send him to prison for life if he is convicted.
Meanwhile, the search goes on for the two dark-haired men who unwittingly handled one of the bombs.
On the FBI poster, which is headlined “Seeking Information,” one man is wearing a pink shirt and the other a light-colored shirt. Their photo, the poster says, “was taken on West 27th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues in Manhattan between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Saturday, September 17, 2016 in the same hour that an explosive device had detonated on West 23rd Street.”
In other developments:
Rahami's wife, Asia Bibi Rahami, is back the U.S., NBC News has learned. She had spent the summer in Pakistan and was questioned by the FBI on Tuesday in the United Arab Emirates. Timothy Gallagher, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Newark, told NBC News on Tuesday there was nothing to indicate she was "involved" in the bombings.
Maria Mena, who was Rahami's high school girlfriend and the mother of his child, released a statement through her lawyer in which she said she was "shocked and appalled." She said neither she nor their child "have had any physical contact with him" in more than two years. In addition, he has only reached out to us one time in the last year," Mena said in the statement. Earlier this week, a New Jersey court granted Mena sole custody of the child but denied her request to change the child's name. She said in a court filing she had not spoken to Rahami since January.