A Salem resident and local landlord said the Federal Bureau of Investigation contacted her Monday after learning that the father of a man suspected of carrying out bombings in New York and New Jersey rented a Roanoke property she owns.
Renee Turk said the FBI searched the home Monday night on the 1200 block of Patterson Avenue Southwest after she was contacted by a Roanoke-based agent. The primary tenant of the home, Mohammad Rahami, also gave the FBI permission to search the home, Turk said.
Rahami is the father of 28-year-old Ahmad Khan Rahami, who remains hospitalized after a Monday shootout with officers in Linden, New Jersey, according to the Associated Press. Investigators say the younger Rahami planted bombs in New York and New Jersey, including one that injured 31 people in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood.
When Mohammad Rahami rented the house in December 2015, Turk said Rahami told her that the family was moving from New Jersey. Rahami’s wife and three others were listed on the lease. Ahmad Rahami was not among the tenants listed, Turk said.
“[Mohammad Rahami] owned a fried chicken business up there,” Turk said. “He was wanting to relocate down here because his brother lived in this area.”
Turk said she met Mohammad Rahami infrequently while setting up the lease agreement — when he came down to Roanoke in October and December, and again in January when she met with him to “take care of some paperwork with the bank.”
“I’m not sure how much they were there. I spoke with them in March but I did not physically see the father there,” Turk said. “He was very polite, nice man.”
She said she believes she saw Ahmad Rahami at the house once in the spring, when she noticed overgrown grass at the property.
“I saw three men outside and asked that they cut it immediately and keep the grass at a reasonable level,” she said.
Wednesday, Mohammad Rahami told The New York Times that he warned federal agents about his son’s interest in jihadist music, poetry and other media, as well as his interest in terrorist organizations like Al Qaida. Law enforcement officials told The New York Times Thursday that Rahami did not provide as many details about his son’s interests as he said he did.
Turk said she was unaware of the possible connection her tenant’s son had to the New York and New Jersey bombings until the FBI contacted her Monday.
“I knew there had been a bombing, but I did not see the name,” Turk said. “I gave them any information I had.”
Ahmad Rahami bought a Glock 9 mm handgun from a gun dealer in Salem in July, according to The Washington Post. He is accused of using that handgun to shoot two New Jersey officers. Virginia law requires that those who buy handguns must be a resident of the state “in which the transfer occurs,” according to Virginia State Police’s website.
Police said that Rahami last lived in Elizabeth, New Jersey, but was able to purchase the gun in Salem because he had a valid Virginia ID with a Roanoke address, according to the Post.