At 7:55 a.m. on Monday, New Yorkers and other Tri-State residents were greeted with a troubling smartphone alert.
The klaxon-like alarm that usually sounds for flash flood warnings or missing children went off for a very different reason.
The purpose of Monday’s alert was to incite a manhunt for Ahmad Khan Rahami ― the suspect in the bombing in Seaside Park, New Jersey, on Saturday morning and the bombing in Chelsea that injured 29 people . Police also suspect Rahami is connected to the
Its unclear whether this sort of direct alert had been used in the past, but plenty of Tri-State residents found it startling to receive.
Unfortunately, the alarming message offered no information about where Rahami may have been ― and with its instructions to “see media for pic,” the warning also suggested that anyone who looked like Rahami could be suspicious. That’s problematic.
Police have incorrectly identified suspects in other major attacks (such as the Boston bombing and the shooting in Dallas), so this call to millions of people to be on the lookout for someone fitting Rahami’s description may not have actually served the purpose it was supposed to.
A similar alert was also issued Saturday evening, but seemingly only to New York City residents in Manhattan.
We may have entered a new dawn of warning systems, and it doesn’t appear to be too bright.
UPDATE: 11:40 a.m. ― Police captured Ahmad Khan Rahami later on Monday morning.