According to the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Newark, Elizabeth police officers repeatedly forced the Rahami family to close their fast-food restaurant, First American Fried Chicken on Elmora Avenue in Elizabeth, earlier at night than they would prefer. Rahami’s father, Muhammad Rahami, alleged in the lawsuit that one man in particular would continually enter the restaurant and tell whoever was working that “Muslims don’t belong here” and “Muslims are trouble.” Ahmad Rahami regularly worked the register at his family’s restaurant and was thought by neighborhood patrons to be first in line to take over for his dad.
Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage admitted that the family had a long history of disputes with the city, but maintained that any restaurant closures were purely code related. “It was strictly about neighbors calling about noise,” he said. “It was never ethnicity or religion or beliefs or anything like that.” Bollwage explained that city officials received a series of complaints about the restaurant’s late hours. “When they opened the business, in 2002, they were operating it 24 hours,” he said. “After receiving a series of complaints of noise and large crowds gathering late at night, the city passed an ordinance forcing the business to close at 10 p.m.”
Rahami was arrested in New Jersey on Monday morning following a shootout with police. He was taken into custody alive. Details have already begun to emerge about the suspect, including that he traveled to his birthplace of Afghanistan multiple times in the past, though he was not previously suspected for possible radicalization.