Eight people were killed and about a dozen more were injured on Halloween Day when a motorist in a rented pickup truck deliberately drove down a bike path in lower Manhattan and mowed down several people before crashing into a school bus. Officials said it was a terrorist attack — the deadliest in New York City since Sept. 11, 2001.
The man hopped out of the truck and shouted “Allahu Akbar,” or “God is great,” before firing a BB or pellet gun, four senior law enforcement sources told the media. A police officer on patrol in the area returned fire, hitting the suspect in the abdomen and ending the Halloween horror less than a mile from the World Trade Center.
Law enforcement sources said the man left a note in the truck claiming that he committed the attack for the Islamic State terrorist group, although it was not known whether he was imitating other IS-inspired road attacks in Europe or was under the group’s control.
“This was an act of terror and a particularly cowardly act of terror,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a briefing. “We know this action was intended to test our spirit.”
The suspect was identified as a 29-year-old Uzbek immigrant named Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, who entered the United States in 2010, law enforcement officials said. Records revealed that Saipov had lived for a time in Paterson, New Jersey. The weapons investigators recovered turned out to be a pellet gun and a paintball gun.
“Today, there was a loss of innocent life in lower Manhattan,” Police Commissioner James O’Neill said. “This is a tragedy of the greatest magnitude.” The attack began unfolding at 3:05 p.m. when the southbound truck veered onto a bike path on West Street near Houston Street. “He entered the bike path at Houston Street and exited the bike path when he collided with the bus at Chambers Street,” O’Neill said.
Argentina’s foreign affairs minister said five of the victims were Argentine, and the group had been celebrating the 30th anniversary of a school graduation. The official identified them in a statement as Hernán Mendoza, Diego Angelini, Alejandro Pagnucco, Ariel Erlij and Hernán Ferruch. Belgium’s foreign affairs ministry said one of the victims was a national of that country.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the attack appeared to be the work of a “lone wolf.” “There’s no evidence to suggest a wider plot,” he said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of today’s terrorist attack in New York City and their families,” President Trump said in a statement. “My Administration will provide its full support to the New York City Police Department, including through a joint investigation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. We offer our thanks to the first responders who stopped the suspect and rendered immediate aid to the victims of this cowardly attack.