Eight people were killed and dozens more injured when a rental truck plowed through a lower Manhattan bike path on the west side of the West Side Highway on Tuesday, Oct. 31. The rental truck continued to pursue down the bike path before hitting a school bus and stopping, in what is described as an “attack of terror” by local officials.
The man drove 20 blocks down the bike path before crashing his truck and jumping out with fake guns, later being shot by the police. The man in question is now being held in custody, with the authorities treating this case and investigation as a terrorist attack. Two law enforcement officials said that after the driver had gotten out of his truck, he was heard shouting “Allahu Akbar,” meaning “God is great.”
The suspect has officially been identified as Sayfullo Saipov, a 29-year-old man, being detained and was taken to the hospital for treatment after being shot. A slim, bearded man as seen by video footage, is originally from Uzbekistan, a central Asian nation, before coming to the United States in 2010. The man rented the truck that killed eight from New Jersey, renting a Home Depot truck, with a pellet and paintball gun in tow.
The scene after the attack was one of crumpled bicycles littered across the pavement, and half a dozen strewn bodies thrown in between. Six people were considered dead at the scene while the other two were pronounced dead at the hospital.
There were multiple witness accounts of the truck plowing through the bodies of people, as well as video footage as people took out their phones to record behind the blue and white police lines. Eugene Duffy had just left work at Pier 26 and waiting to cross West Street when he heard a scream. “I look down and I see a white pickup truck a couple of more blocks down in the bike path,” he said. “Automatically, I know something’s wrong. Then, as I go down more toward where the girl is screaming, I see two gentlemen laying there and they have tire tracks marked across their bodies. You could tell they both weren’t here.”
Another witness, Ramon Cruz, 27, described that the driver wasn’t bleeding. He added that “he was dragging his foot. He looks frustrated, panicked, confused. People are running past me, saying, ‘He’s got a gun. He’s got a gun.’ I didn’t see any gun.”
“The First Precinct lit him up,” said a law enforcement official, referring to a policeman that had been posted nearby, and had immediately shot at the driver. He was credited with saving many lives by local authorities.
New York’s Mayor de Blasio said, “based on information we have at this moment, this was an act of terror and a particularly cowardly act of terror aimed at innocent civilians.” Two law enforcement officials found handwritten notes near the truck that indicated allegiance to ISIS.
President Donald Trump responded to the attack in true Trump fashion, with a series of tweets:
This terrorist attack comes five months after a car rammed through Times Square, killing one, and highlighted again the pursuing prominence of vehicles being used to carry out terrorist attacks. Another example is the Nice attack that had a truck plough through a crowd, killing dozens.
Currently, a large section of the West Side Highway is closed for investigation and careful examination. Hundreds of officers are on high alert, with the bomb squad also surveying the area. Several buildings have also been placed on lockdown. This attack has been named the worst attack on New York since 9/11, and emphasises the persistent terrorist activity prominent worldwide.