LINDEN — A "true American hero" from New Jersey will be a special guest at President Donald Trump's message before a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night.

Linen Police Officer Angel Padilla, who along with Officer Pete Hammer, came upon Ahmad Khan Rahami sleeping in a doorway of a bar on East Elizabeth Avenue, will be Congressman Josh Gottheimer's special guest at the speech in the Capital.

Rahami opened fire on the officers at point blank range, injuring Padilla, a 15-year-veteran officer who was wearing a bullet proof vest. Hammer was grazed in the head by a bullet.

“Officer Padilla reminds us that our law enforcement officers not only protect our communities from criminals and local dangers, but they are on the front lines in our fight against terrorism. Our war on terror is a war fought on multiple fronts, and in Congress," the 5th Congressional district Democrat said at the Bergen County Law Enforcement Memorial in Mahwah

Gottheimer called Rahami a "lone wolf terrorist" that was radicalized in his own home making him difficult to find. "That’s why the sort of community policing practiced by Officer Padilla and others is critical," Gottheimer said.

Padilla thanked Gottheimer, who defeated Republican Scott Garrett in November. "It will be an honor to attend and represent the New Jersey law enforcement community," Padilla said.

Other guests invited by members of the New Jersey congressional delegation include:

    • Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman: retired Trenton police officer and Iraq war veteran Luddie Austin from the reality program Manhunters: Fugitive Task Force.
    • Rep. Bill Pascrell: University of Virginia law professor George Yin, an expert on the 1924 law that Pascrell hopes will force Trump to release his tax returns
    • Rep. Frank Pallone: Jon Whiten, Vice president of New Jersey Policy Perspective and a supporter of Obamacare.

During Tuesday night's speech Trump will lay out his administration's agenda for the next year and tout what he considers the accomplishments so far.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at

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