NEW YORK, NY – OCTOBER 31: Emergency personal respond after reports of multiple people hit by a truck after it plowed through a bike path in lower Manhattan on October 31, 2017 in New York City. According to reports up to six people may have been killed. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
Sayfullo Saipov was identified as the driver accused of ramming a Home Depot rental truck into people on a bike path in lower Manhattan, killing at least seven and injuring multiple more, in a frightening possible act of terrorism that unfolded almost in the shadow of the World Trade Center memorial.
The suspect, who was shot by the New York Police Department after leaping from the truck with a fake firearm while shouting “Allahu Akbar,” is in custody. According to CNN, the FBI has taken over responsibility for the investigation and is considering the attack to be possible terrorism; in a press conference, New York’s mayor labeled the attack an “act of terror.”
“It looked intentional,” an eyewitness concurred, telling CNN. “I saw the car in a bike lane.” Pedestrians and bicyclists can see the World Trade Center memorial area as they traverse the area where the attack occurred. It’s literally adjacent to the scene where the United States’ worst terrorist attack occurred in 2011.
“The truth is, New York is an international symbol of freedom and Democracy,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a press conference, describing the suspect as a likely “lone wolf.” He added, “That also makes us a target from those people who oppose those concepts… We go forward together, and we go forward stronger than ever. We’re not going to let them win.”
The New York Police Department shot the suspect before taking him into custody, and local media reports said that at least four people were injured in the lower Manhattan truck attack, with some accounts saying there were more. Multiple news outlets reported more than one casualty. NBC News reported that there were casualties, although it was not yet clear how many, writing on Twitter, “Multiple people are dead and several are injured following an incident in lower Manhattan, per a senior New York City official.” Be forewarned that some of the videos and photos below are graphic.
The incident comes as European cities have weathered a series of incidents in which vehicles – often large trucks – were used to ram into crowds of pedestrians. It’s not yet clear what the motive is for the New York incident or whether it has anything to do with terrorism. ISIS claimed responsibility for some of the attacks in Europe.
Here’s what you need to know:
The Suspect Shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ & Victims Said the Truck Ramming Appeared Intentional
Witnesses described the suspect shouting “Allahu Akbar” during the attack, and New York’s mayor called it an act of terrorism. The attack occurred at 3:05 p.m., when the male suspect began driving southbound, striking a number of pedestrians and bicyclists before colliding with a school bus. The 29-year-old suspect “exited the vehicle brandishing two handguns,” the police commissioner said. A heroic uniformed “police officer confronted the suspect and shot him in the abdomen. A pellet gun and paintball gun were recovered at the scene,” the commissioner said.
Loss of innocent life on lower Manhattan. This is a tragedy of the greatest magnitude, Commissioner James O O’Neill. NYPD officer stopped the carnage “moments after it began.” He said the quick response “surely helped save additional lives.”
Mayor Bill DeBlasio said “it’s a very painful day in our city. Horrible tragedy on the west side. Based on the information we have at this moment, this was an act of terror. A particularly cowardly act of terror” against people just going on with their lives not knowing what “would hit them.” He said eight were killed and more than a dozen injured. “This action was intended to break our spirit…our spirit will never be broken…we have been tested as a city very near to the site of this tragedy and New Yorkers do not give in to these actions. We will respond as we always do. We will be undeterred.”
He said, “I want to ask all New Yorkers, all Americans, to keep the families of those lost in your thoughts, in your prayers.” Andrew Cuomo, New York’s governor, noted that people were “enjoying a beautiful fall day and they’re not going to be returning home. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of them.” Cuomo described the attack as perpetrated likely by a “lone wolf” and said there was no evidence to suggest a “wider scheme” but the “actions of one individual who meant to cause pain and death.”
A witness described the grisly scene with fatally wounded victims on the ground with tire tracks on their bodies.
“I hear a loud commotion coming from behind me,” an eyewitness told CNN. “I look and see a truck going down toward Chambers Street. He’s in the bike lane. Clearly in the bike lane….I see two gentlemen laying in the bike lane with tire trucks across their body. You can tell they’re not hear anymore. I hear the lady screaming…I hear 9 or 10 gunshots…and all the police came running… they’re just as much accused as I was. They clear the area. I see a yellow school bus that this truck clearly crashed into…Somebody had more than road rage to do something like that.”
“A witness told ABC’s New York station WABC that a truck hit multiple people on the bike path on the West Side Highway. The witness added that the truck crashed into a school bus and the driver got out and opened fire,” ABC News reported of the fast unfolding incident on October 31. One photo did show a body covered with a white covering. People Magazine reported that at least two people are dead.
2. Graphic Videos & Photos From the Scene Showed Crumpled Bicycles & Injured People
One graphic video (which you can watch below) showed crumpled bikes and people lying on the pavement in the attack’s aftermath. You can view it below, but be aware that it’s disturbing. Fox News reported that the incident occurred near the World Trade Center memorial, sparking additional fears in lower Manhattan. “The New York City Police Department is responding to reports of a shooting in Lower Manhattan Tuesday, a few blocks from the World Trade Center Memorial,” Fox reported.
“A truck rammed into people along a bike path along the Hudson River, according to two police sources,” People Magazine reported. Governor Andrew Cuomo wrote on Twitter that he had been briefed and was headed to the scene of the incident.
The New York Police Department tweeted, “Currently there is one person in custody. No others outstanding. All information is preliminary as the investigation is ongoing.” Police also wrote, “Due to police activity, avoid the area of Chambers Street/West St. One person is in custody. Expect many emergency personnel in the area.”
3. The Suspect Was Middle Eastern With a Florida ID, Reports Said & An Eyewitness Described the Pickup as a Home Depot Truck & Said It Was ‘Totaled’
According to a producer for GMA, the suspect was “approximately 30 years old, of Middle Eastern descent, carrying a Florida ID.”
John Williams witnessed the aftermath of the incident. He said in a media interview widely circulated on Twitter, “The truck basically it was a Home Depot pickup truck. The front was entirely smashed in, and it had smoke coming out of it… and I heard it was an accident with a bus, but I didn’t see the bus. I did see the Home Deport truck… I was definitely totaled. He added of the disturbing scene: “Right next to the truck was the man laying on the ground and the man getting arrested.”
Videos showed a large police response after reports of shots being fired. The motive for the attack was not yet clear. It also wasn’t clear whether there was any nexus to terrorism, although the scene of a truck ramming into pedestrians obviously brings to mind ISIS-fueled attacks in Europe in which a vehicle was the modus operandi.
4. Singer Josh Groban Was Among Those Who Heard Gunshots
It now appears that the gunfire emanated from New York police, neutralizing the suspect after he attacked the crowd with his truck, according to the NYPD. However, the sounds of gunfire in lower Manhattan led some to fear an active shooter or shooting attack was underway.
Some reports, unconfirmed by authorities had five people dead with two injured. Photos from the scene showed what people were describing as a “white truck” that had rammed into people in lower Manhattan. The shooting and ramming incident has created widespread panic in Lower Manhattan on Halloween Day. The incident occurred at 3:10 p.m. local time at West Street and Chambers Street. Singer Josh Groban tweeted, “Oh my God I just heart gun shots and ran with my dog. Downtown. F***.”
5. The Victims Were Mostly in a Cycling Lane, Reports Said
According to the BBC, “Unconfirmed reports on social media suggest a man drove at cyclists in a cycling lane before opening fire. The number of casualties is at present unknown.” Police had not yet made many official statements beyond what they put on Twitter as the incident was unfolding. You can read more details about the incident here: