A 29-year-old man is in custody after a terrifying incident in Lower Manhattan in which a rented truck drove down a major bike path for about 20 blocks and struck several people. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference that at least eight people are dead and more than a dozen hurt.
“It’s a very painful day in our city,” de Blasio said. “Based on the information we have at this moment, this is was an act of terror and a particularly coward act of terror.” If it is confirmed as a terrorist attack, it would be the first to claim lives in New York City since September 11, 2001. No group has claimed responsibility.
Officials said some of the injured are in critical condition, but none has life-threatening injuries.
“This is a tragedy of the greatest magnitude,” NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo reassured the public that there is no ongoing threat and told locals to “be New Yorkers.”
FBI agents have taken the lead on the investigation and are treating the incident as terrorism. Officials confirmed witnesses accounts that the driver was yelling “Allahu akbar” — “God is great” in Arabic.
Police identified the suspect as Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, an Uzbekistan national who came to the U.S. in 2010, has a green card, took mail in Paterson, NJ, and carried a driver’s license issued in Tampa, FL.
NYPD tweeted that the truck ultimately struck a school bus. Two men were injured on the bus; two or three children also were aboard, but police did not say whether they were hurt. NBC News is reporting that the bus was deliberately targeted. Local schools were in lockdown, including nearby Stuyvesant High.
Officials said tonight’s Halloween parade in Manhattan will go on as scheduled but with an increased security presence.
“Unfortunately driving into a crowd is the new normal,” CNN’s Jake Tapper said.
Authorities said the rented Home Depot truck started going wrong way on the bike path that runs along the Hudson River, starting at Houston Street and continued for about 20 blocks to Chambers Street near the World Trade Center, striking bicyclists and pedestrians. The driver then exited the truck with what police said were a paintball gun and a pellet gun and was shot in the abdomen by police. The person survived and was taken to Bellevue Hospital.
Out on the West Coast, the Los Angeles Police Department said in a statement today:
On a day when Angelenos should be thrilled to cheer on our hometown Dodgers in Game 6 of the World Series, that excitement is dampened by an act of terrorism in New York City.
We are closely monitoring the situation on the east coast and communicating with NYPD and our Federal Law Enforcement partners, and at this point there is no nexus to Los Angeles.
Tonight we have a heightened sense of awareness for the potential of terrorist acts, however it is our priority to ensure the safety and security of anyone attending high profile events in the city and had already planned on a highly visible LAPD presence at the game tonight.
It is important to remember the eyes and ears of our community can make the biggest impact, if you see something say something.