Eight people are dead and more than a dozen injured after a man drove a pickup truck down the West Side Highway Bike Path in Lower Manhattan Tuesday afternoon in what officials said they believe is a deliberate act of terror.
Around 3:05 p.m., the alleged suspect, identified as 29-year-old Sayfullo Saipov, was driving a rented Home Depot Truck when he entered the bike path at Houston Street. He sped southbound down the path, officials said, striking pedestrians and cyclists.
The driver then crashed into a school bus, injuring two adults and two children. He exited his truck wielding two fake guns, which officials later determined to be a paintball gun and a bb gun, officials said.
At that time, a police officer shot him in the abdomen and the suspect is currently being treated in a nearby hospital where he remains in custody.
“This is a very painful day in our city,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a press conference. “Based on the information we have at the moment, this was an act of terror and a particularly cowardly act of terror aimed at innocent civilians.”
The attack is being jointly investigated by NYPD and the FBI. Officials said that a statement the suspect yelled in Arabic as he got out of his truck as well as the fact that a vehicle was used to inflict harm lead them to label it a terror attack consistent with the patterns used by ISIS.
An ISIS magazine reportedly came out a few years ago suggesting car attacks as a method for terrorism, NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said, and since then, the NYPD has worked with local truck rental businesses to talk about suspicious indicators through the Shield Program.
Six of the victims were pronounced dead at the scene, FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said, and the other two victims were transported to a hospital and pronounced dead there. Eleven people have been transported to the hospital with serious but not life-threatening injuries, he said, but officials suspect there may be more injuries determined later, as some people self-evacuated from the area.
The immediate threat is contained, officials said. There will be an increased police presence in the city, in areas like the airports and tunnels, but that is a precaution, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, and not an indicator of any further known threats.
“We know the terrorist tactic which they’ve called for publically are these lone wolves which commit an act of terror. There’s no evidence to suggest a wider plot or wider scheme, but that these are the actions of one individual who meant to cause pain and harm and probably death and the resulting terror.”
“The truth is, New York is an international symbol of freedom and democracy, that’s what we are and we are proud of it,” Cuomo said. “That also makes us a target for those people who oppose those concepts. We’ve lived with this before, we’ve felt this pain before and we feel this pain today, but we go forward together, we go forward stronger than ever and we’re not going to let them win.”
Cuomo also said that those lost and their families are in his thoughts and prayers, and to New Yorkers: “Be New Yorkers and live your life and don’t let them change us or deter us in any manner, shape or form.”