What to Know
- Angel Padilla was one of two Linden police officers wounded in a shootout with bombing suspect Ahmad Rahami Monday
- Padilla was shot in the torso, but he was wearing a bulletproof vest, saving him from more serious injury
- The other shot officer, Pete Hammer, had a graze wound to the head and was released from the hospital a day after Padilla
A Linden police officer injured in a shootout with the man suspected of setting off bombs in New York and New Jersey visited a school Thursday to thank students for their well wishes, calling the students his "heroes."
Patrolman Angel Padilla visited Linden School No. 5, where his grandson attends and where he volunteers with the school's PTA.
One of the fifth grade students in the class asked Padilla how scared he was when he confronted the suspect.
"How scared was I? I was nervous. A bit nervous," Padilla said.
Students at the school wrote get well cards for Padilla and officer Pete Hammer, who were both hurt in Monday's shootout. The children hunched intently over their desks Thursday, putting the finishing touches on their notes.
One said, "Our Hero's Officer Padilla and Officer Hammer Protect and Respect," with a drawing of the American flag. Another girl held up a drawing of a stick figure officer next to a heart, with the words, "Officer Padilla Love You" atop.
But it was Padilla who called the children his heroes as he vowed to come back to play basketball and attend the school book fair. Kids lined up to hug the officer before he left as his colleagues thanked the children for their support.
"I just want to say, 'Thank you,' for catching a guy who made a bad decision," one little girl said.
Padilla was shot in the torso, but his bulletproof vest saved him from a more serious injury. Hammer was grazed in the head by a bullet or shrapnel.
Both officers were treated at a hospital and have since been released.
Ahmad Rahami, the 28-year-old naturalized citizen from Afghanistan who faces federal terror charges in the bombings, is also accused of multiple counts of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer in the Linden shootout. He remains hospitalized in Newark recovering from at least 10 gunshot wounds.
Though Rahami has been charged federally, he is still in state custody in New Jersey on the shootout-related charges. A Manhattan U.S. magistrate judge refused Rahami's public defender's request Wednesday to have him arraigned on the federal charges until that changes. U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said he would be moved to New York in "the near future."
Rahami's wife, who was overseas at the time of the attacks, returned to the United States early Thursday and is cooperating with authorities, law enforcement officials say. She is not considered a suspect in the case.
Rahami has not cooperated with law enforcement officials who tried to question him at the hospital, authorities have said. A blood-stained journal found in his possession when he was captured, though, paints a chilling picture of a man rife with anti-U.S. sentiment who praised leaders of terror groups and wanted to make a martyr of himself.