Retired State Police Lieutenant Patrick McGreevy sat down with NBC25's Bill Harris earlier this week to talk about the days leading up to Elias Abuelazam's arrest in Atlanta, Georgia.
Bill -What was your first "wow" moment?
Lt. McGreevy - Well, the first "wow" moment, I would go ahead, and let's fast forward a little bit. Let's go ahead and go to Wednesday. Let's go to the following Wednesday. And we had been disseminating information, we know that Toledo had a similar attack, they reported that to us on Monday. But now, here we are on Wednesday and tip number three-fourteen came into the task force on the tip line which gave really good information that directed investigators to Kingwater Market up in Mt. Morris. And from that, things just began to roll very very quickly, very very rapidly. So as that Wednesday is evolving now, and we have teams of investigators inside, outside, we're analyzing information and intelligence, there's an emergency meeting that was called at the Post and the chief investigators brought everybody from the field back in, everybody was meeting at the Post at about 2 or 2:30, and I'll never forget sitting there, ready to take some notes, and the chief investigator comes in and says "We know who this guy is." And they showed us a picture and said "We are on this guy right now. Things are really going to move." That was the big one.
Bill - That was a pretty defining moment. And that was, ultimately, the day of the arrest. Take me through that critical amount of time where the arrest is about to take place.
Lt. Mcgreevy - Well, as the afternoon progressed, more and more information came into the task force, the pieces of the puzzle kept on dropping right into place, so we move now to Atlanta Hartsield Airport, where we now know that he was scheduled to board a flight to Israel. So at about 8:15 or 8:30, there's a team of about fifteen investigators, you have FBI, you have Michigan State Police, you have the prosecutor's office, and we're all crammed into this one small investigator's office, we've got all these phone lines going, and the air was electrified and we're, you have to remember, we're working behind the scenes, we're on the phone, uh, we're just going full speed, full speed. And now, it's almost like the moment is now arrived to go ahead to put the plan into place. And the room got very, very quiet. And they said, "OK, call him up to the counter." And we heard, we were all listening, and we heard the voice on the other go "All right, they just paged him, he's standing up, ok, he's walking to the counter." And at that point, there was silence for four, five, six seconds. It seemed like an eternity. But what we're doing is we're all waiting to hear and there was nothing. And then finally, we heard a voice, and he said "He's safely in custody."
Bill - And the reaction in the room?
Lt. McGreevy - Oh, there were some high fives going around then. It was one of those, "we got him, that's exactly, we got him, we got him."