‘Now is not the time to live in fear:’ NYPD commissioner
City officials shared new details about the terror attack by Sayfullo Saipov in Lower Manhattan and urged New Yorkers to remain resilient.
The day after Sayfullo Saipov drove a rented truck down a bike path on the West Side of Lower Manhattan, killing eight people and injuring 12 others, city officials urged New Yorkers to remain vigilant — and fearless — in the face of terrorism.
“Now is not the time to live in fear, to be fearful. It’s time to be strong as we always are,” NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said at a press conference Wednesday morning.
Mayor Bill de Blasio echoed that sentiment.
“This was an attack on the United States of America and New York and our people. It was the definition of terrorism,” de Blasio said. “This was an attack on our values, an effort to break our spirit, but it failed. New York City is a strong and resilient place.”
Despite its tragic outcome, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who called Saipov a “depraved coward,” agreed the attack was unsuccessful at its core.
“The effort was to disrupt us, to terrorize us, to create mayhem. It failed,” he said. “The Halloween parade was a beautiful example of the failure of the attempt.”
Just hours after the terrorist attack, New York’s annual Halloween parade went on as planned, with more than 1 million — and a ramped-up police presence — in attendance. New Yorkers can expect to continue seeing such increased precautionary patrols across the city, NYPD Chief of Department Carlos Gomez said.
“You’ll see a lot more officers on trains, on platforms,” he said. “They should expect more bag checks at more stations, more explosive-detecting canines at stations.”
As for the New York City Marathon on Sunday, Gomez said the NYPD will have its “most ever” deployment with more than double rooftop observation teams, more sand trucks, blocker vehicles and cops in civilian attire mixing with the expected 2.5 million spectators. There will also be a “large number” of canines and counter-terrorism officers and helicopter patrols.
“The marathon will go on because New York will go on,” Cuomo said.
The West Side Highway from 14th Street to the Holland Tunnel will remain closed until at least the early evening tonight as the investigation continues.
According to FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro, three of the 12 injured in Tuesday’s attack have been released while nine remain in critical but stable condition. Injuries ranged from a bilateral amputation to several serious body traumas.
NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence & Counter-terrorism John Miller said that Saipov, who was shot in the abdomen by Officer Ryan Nash after exiting the truck, remains hospitalized and in custody at Bellevue Hospital.
Miller said that it “appears he’s been planning for a number of weeks” and that “he did this in the name of ISIS,” another name for the Islamic State group, based an note found in the vehicle. Multiple knives were also recovered.
“What happened yesterday is not OK,” O’Neill said. He said two dozen similar plots had been stopped prior, stemming largely from public tips.
He urged the city’s “minimum 17 million eyes and ears and gut feelings to remain vigilant — if you see something or something that makes you uncomfortable, you have an obligation to say something,” he said.
When asked if President Donald Trump, a native New Yorker, called after the attack, de Blasio and Cuomo said no, but that top Department of Homeland Security officials did.
“I am bothered by an attempt by anyone attempting to politicize this, that plays right into the hands of the terrorists,” Cuomo said. “The point is to do the opposite, to proceed as one.”
Cuomo did blast Trump’s tweets about the Diversity Visa Lottery that began in 1990 and was used by Saipov to come to the U.S. Though the bill was sponsored by 32 lawmakers, including six Republicans, Trump singled out Democrats and New York Sen. Chuck Schumer.
The terrorist came into our country through what is called the "Diversity Visa Lottery Program," a Chuck Schumer beauty. I want merit based.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 1, 2017
“The president’s tweets, I think, were not helpful,” Cuomo said. “I don’t think they were factual. They tended to point fingers and politicize the situation.”
The president tweeted his condolences to the victims and families and later wrote that he ordered DHS to increase the Extreme Vetting Program. “Being politically correct is fine, but not for this,” he wrote.
I have just ordered Homeland Security to step up our already Extreme Vetting Program. Being politically correct is fine, but not for this!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 1, 2017
De Blasio said he supported “very thorough” individual vetting “not groups of people just because they belong to a group, not because of religion or country of origin.”