At least eight people have been killed in New York after a pickup truck plowed down a bike path in lower Manhattan on Tuesday afternoon. The driver was shot and taken into police custody. Authorities are treating the incident as a terror attack.
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The Federal Bureau of Investigation has joined the New York City police department in investigating the incident, in which at least a further 12 people were injured.
Two law enforcement officials who were not authorized to discuss the investigation and spoke of condition of anonymity identified the attacker as 29-year-old Saifullah Saipov from Uzbekistan, who migrated to the U.S. legally in 2010.
CNN have reported one source claiming that Saipov had left a note on his persons that claimed allegiance to Islamic terror group ISIS, though this has not yet been confirmed by the authorities.
The NYPD reported that the pickup truck crashed into another vehicle after striking bicyclists and pedestrians on a bicycle path. The driver then got out of his car holding two fake guns, and was subsequently shot by police. The suspect was taken into custody and has since undergone surgery after sustaining gunshot wounds to his abdomen. He is reported to be in critical condition.
The suspect reported by eyewitnesses to have yelled "Allahu Akhbar," God is great in Arabic, after exiting the vehicle.
Five Argentinians and one Belgian have been confirmed among the fatalities in the attack.
On Twitter, President Donald Trump called it "another attack by a very sick and deranged person" and declared, "NOT IN THE U.S.A.!"
While police did not specifically blame the Islamic State group for the New York bloodshed, Trump railed against the extremist group, tweeting, "We must not allow ISIS to return, or enter, our country after defeating them in the Middle East and elsewhere. Enough!"
Speaking at a press conference after the incident, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said: "This was an act of terror, and a particularly cowardly act of terror aimed at innocent civilians, aimed at people going about their lives who had no idea what was about to hit them.
"New Yorkers are strong, resilient, and our spirit will never be broken y those who try to intimidate us," the mayor said. "This has happened before, and New Yorkers do not give in in face of these actions."
The incident took place near the West Side Highway and Chambers Street, which is near Battery Park City and Stuyvesant High School.
The NYPD tweeted that the area has been shut down for emergency access only.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says the president, a New York native, has been briefed by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and "will be continually updated as more details are known." "Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected," Sanders said.
Festivities and fear
Festivities and fear mixed in Manhattan's Tribeca neighborhood on Tuesday following the attack. Costumed children went trick or treating with their parents in an area where hours earlier a pickup truck plowed through pedestrians and bicycle riders.
Rabbi Chaim Zaklos was on the corner of Murray and West to pick up children for an after-school Hebrew school program. “Suddenly 20-30 police cars went driving by so I realized something drastic was happening not too far away.”
Zaklos says many Jewish and Israeli families live in the neighborhood and their children go to the local school PS89, very close to where the attack took place. “Being a Rabbi in New York City you’re always vigilant, in the back of your mind sadly you always know these things can happen,” Zaklos said.
Fourth grader Sophie Palmer from the nearby Independence School said she heard the gunshots and was told by school staff to run inside. They were in a shelter-in situation for three hours, she said, while the school informed their parents on the ongoing situation.
The residential neighborhood is a school hub ranging from primary to colleges. Ruben Cabrera was on his way to Italian class at the Borough of Manhattan Community College when he heard gun shots. When he arrived at the scene a minute later, first responders were already there. “There were two bodies covered in sheets with bikes next to them that appeared to be run over,” Cabrera said, adding he was shocked by the sight.