LINDEN, N.J. (Diya TV) — Harinder Bains, the owner of Merdie’s Tavern on East Elizabeth Avenue, worked the just as he would any other, until he came face-to-face with one of the most wanted suspects in the United States.
Bains found himself in the deli he owns across the street from Merdie’s around 6:30 a.m. when he spotted someone sleeping inside the vestibule in front of the tavern.
“I thought there was a homeless man outside my bar,” Bains said. “It’s happened before.”
This time, the man sleeping was Ahmad Khan Rahami, the same whom was wanted in connection with a series of bombings in New York City and Seaside Park. Bains wasn’t aware of who was in front of him, and approached to confront Rahami. That’s when he got a good look at him. But not wanting to stand out in the pouring rain, Bains ran back into the deli.
“I was watching CNN news, and (Rahami’s) photo was on the side of the screen,” Bains said. “This guy looks like so much like the photo I saw on the news,” Bains said he thought to himself.
Unsure of what his next move should be, he pondered on the matter for about 20 minutes. He then ran it by a friend in the store, who also thought the man sleeping outside of the bar looked like Rahami.
He settled on calling the police, shortly afterward, a gun battle between authorities and Rahami ensued.
“Then everything happened so fast,” Bains said.
He took cover in the deli, but kept watch through one of the store’s windows. Bains said he saw Rahami shoot a cop in the stomach. Then Rahami started running on East Elizabeth Avenue towards Roselle Street. Rahami was ducking in between vehicles at an auto-body shop, Bains said.
When two unmarked police cars arrived on scene, Rahami began firing at those.
“He was boxed in,” Bains said. “There were cars behind him, there were cars in front of him.”
Police fired several shots at Rahami outside of the auto repair shop he was arrested in front of. He was charged with five counts of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer. Two Linden police officers suffered injuries that are not life-threatening.
Bains said he is still shaken up from witnessing the shootout with police.
“It’s something you never thought would happen in front of you,” he said. “It was all surreal, very scary. I did my part: When you see something, say something. I’m not a hero, the cops are the hero.”