The balmy autumn afternoon turned into a shock, grief, and fear when a 29-year-old male struck bicyclists in Lower Manhattan with a truck he rented from a Home Depot. According to the authorities, eight people, all male bicyclists, were killed and scores injured in the attack. The dead included five nationals of Argentina and one from Belgium.
“Based on the information we had at this moment, this was an act of terror, a particularly cowardly act of terror aimed at innocent civilians,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told a news briefing.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told journalists that there’s no evidence at this stage to suggest a “wider plot or a wider scheme, but the actions of one individual who meant to cause pain and harm and probably death, and the resulting terror, and that was the purpose.” But the New York Times reported that officials found notes indicating loyalty to ISIS near the truck the terrorist used for the attack.
According to New York City Police Commissioner James O’Neill, the attack happened at about 3:05 pm, when a male driving a rented Home Depot pickup truck entered the West Side Highway bicycle path at Houston Street, began driving southbound, striking a number of pedestrians and bicyclists along the route. At Chambers Street, Commissioner O’Niel told the news briefing, the truck collided with a school bus, injuring two adults and two children.
“After the collision, the driver of the truck – a 29-year-old male – exited the vehicle, brandishing two handguns. The uniformed police officer assigned to the 1st Precinct, confronted the subject and shot him in the abdomen. The subject was wounded and transported to a local hospital. A paintball gun and a pellet gun were recovered at the scene.”
Many analysts said the terror attack could have been even more deadlier if the attacker had real guns. Some credited New York’s tough gun laws that makes the purchase of guns difficult. A permit and passing a rigorous background check is required for all gun purchases in New York. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof pointed out this horrific possibility in a tweet.
NYPD Commissioner refused to identity the attacker, pending further investigation. However, The Washington Post identified the suspect as Sayfullo Saipov from Tampa. Unidentified law enforcement officials told the Post that Saipov moved to the US five or six years ago.
Mayor de Blasio said an investigation was underway “to get down to the bottom of what happened.” He asked New Yorkers, and all Americans to keep the families of those lost in their thoughts and prayers. Officials are yet to release the identity of those who lost their lives in attack.
Governor Cuomo praised the first responders, who he said, did an extraordinary job. “The NYPD, the FDNY, the FBI, the New York State Police, EMS – they, we have the finest security on the globe and to see them in action today proved that once again.”
This is a developing story.