Halloween Attack: 8 Dead as Muslim Man Careens Down Bike Path in Manhattan

Halloween Attack: 8 Dead as Muslim Man Careens Down Bike Path in Manhattan

A driver plowed a pickup truck down a crowded bike path along the Hudson River in Manhattan on Tuesday, killing eight people and injuring 11 before being shot by a police officer in what officials are calling the deadliest terrorist attack on New York City since Sept. 11.

The rampage ended when the motorist — whom the police identified as Sayfullo Saipov, 29 — smashed into a school bus, jumped out of his truck and ran up and down the highway waving a pellet gun and paintball gun and shouting “Allahu Akbar,” Arabic for “God is great,” before he was shot in the abdomen by the officer. He remained in critical condition on Tuesday evening.

Mayor Bill de Blasio declared the incident a terrorist attack and federal law enforcement authorities were leading the investigation. Investigators discovered handwritten notes in Arabic near the truck that indicated allegiance to ISIS, two law enforcement officials said. But investigators had not uncovered evidence of any direct or enabling ties between Mr. Saipov and ISIS and were treating the episode as a case of an “inspired” attacker, two counterterrorism officials said.

Sayfullo Saipov, 29, has been arrested after allegedly driving a Home Depot truck through pedestrians on a bike path in Lower Manhattan off the West Side Highway near Chambers Street on Oct. 31, 2017 in an apparent act of terror. Here, Saipov brandishes weapons after crashing the truck. (CHRISTIAAN WAGENER)

Sayfullo Saipov, 29, has been arrested after allegedly driving a Home Depot truck through pedestrians on a bike path in Lower Manhattan off the West Side Highway near Chambers Street on Oct. 31, 2017 in an apparent act of terror. Here, Saipov brandishes weapons after crashing the truck. (CHRISTIAAN WAGENER)

Mr. de Blasio said at a news conference, “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.”

The names of the victims had not been released by 9 p.m. Tuesday. The Belgian and Argentinian governments said their citizens were among the victims.

Mr. Saipov came to the United States from Uzbekistan in 2010, and had a green card that allowed permanent legal residence. He had apparently lived in Paterson, N.J., and Tampa, Fla. An official said he rented the truck from a Home Depot in New Jersey.

The truck came crashing to a stop near the corner of Chambers and West Streets by Stuyvesant High School. Sirus Minovi, 14, a freshman there who was hanging out with friends, said people scattered.

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“We heard people screaming, ‘gun’ ‘shooter’ and ‘run away,’” Mr. Minovi said. “We thought it was a Halloween prank.”

He realized it was not a joke when he saw the man staggering through the intersection, waving guns and screaming words he could not make out. A passer-by approached the attacker, apparently trying to calm him, Mr. Minovi said, until the man realized the attacker had a gun. The man “put his hands up and was backing away,” Mr. Minovi said.

Almost immediately, as investigators began to look into Mr. Saipov’s history, it became clear that he had been on the radar of federal authorities. Three officials said he had come to the federal authorities’ attention as a result of an unrelated investigation, but it was not clear whether that was because he was a friend, an associate or a family member of someone under scrutiny or because he himself had been the focus of an investigation.

Over the last two years, a terrorism investigation by the F.B.I., the Department of Homeland Security, the New York Police Department and federal prosecutors in Brooklyn resulted in charges against five men from Uzbekistan and one from Kazakhstan for providing material support to ISIS. Several of the men have pleaded guilty. It is unclear whether Mr. Saipov was connected with that investigation.

Martin Feely, a spokesman for the New York F.B.I. office, declined to comment on whether Mr. Saipov was known to the bureau.

F.B.I. agents were expected to search Mr. Saipov’s home in Paterson, N.J., and his car on Tuesday night, a law enforcement official said. A phone, which was recovered at the scene of the attack, also would be searched, another official said.

 

Read more from The New York Times here

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