Law enforcement officials are still investigating what led a man to drive down a Lower Manhattan bike path for 20 blocks, crash his truck into a school bus, and emerge brandishing paintball and BB guns, in a horrific terror attack on the afternoon of Halloween.In a press conference held just two hours after the incident — which killed eight, the first deaths from terrorism in New York since 9/11 — New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill repeatedly declined to answer reporters’ questions, saying that it was far too early in the investigation to know all the answers. But he did confirm that law enforcement officials are officially treating the incident as an act of terror, and the suspect is in custody.
Read more: Multiple fatalities reported in incident near World Trade CenterHere’s what else we know (and check back for updates):
The driver has been taken to a hospital for treatment, but O’Neill declined to say any more about him. However, several law enforcement officials told ABC News that the driver is 29-year-old Sayfullo Saipov, who’s recently been living in New Jersey.Saipov is an Uzbek national who came to the United States in 2010, NBC News reported. Investigators discovered handwritten notes in Arabic by the truck, which suggested that Saipov had sworn allegiance to ISIS, according to the New York Times.A Facebook page that appeared to belong to Saipov has since been taken down.
Who was the driver?
At 3:05 p.m. local time, Saipov, suspected to have been driving a rented truck, entered the West Side Highway bike path from Houston St., and started driving south, striking several pedestrians and bicyclists along some 15 blocks, authorities said. When he reached Chambers St., he collided with a school bus containing two adults and two children. Then he got out of the car brandishing a paintball gun and a BB gun.As he jumped out, the New York Times reported that he yelled, “Allah Akbar,” which is Arabic for “God is great.” A police officer stationed nearby confronted the driver, and shot him in the abdomen, O’Neill said. The driver was then taken to a hospital, where his condition is unknown.
O’Neill confirmed that the suspect made a statement, which was used to determine that this was a terror incident, but he declined to specify what Saipov said. Authorities also based their assessment that this was a terror attack due to the fact that the suspect rented a truck to carry out the attack mirrors a strategy recently used in terror attacks in London and Nice, France.So far, eight people have died: Six were killed at the scene, while another two were pronounced dead at the hospital. Another 11 people are currently in the hospital, though their injuries are not life-threatening. The school employees and two children were also injured in the crash, the AP reports. Police said it was possible that more injuries would be identified later on, since people fled the scene.The Argentinian Embassy later confirmed at least five of those killed were Argentinian citizens, and a sixth was among those injured. They were reportedly in New York to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their graduation. One of the dead and three of the injured were Belgian, said Didier Reynders, Belgium’s deputy prime minister, on Twitter.
The New York Police Department and the FBI are conducting a joint investigation into the incident, but New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo assured reporters that, right now, this looks like an isolated incident.“There’s no evidence 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,” Cuomo said. “We’ll go about our business. Again, there’s no ongoing threat.”
However, officials promised that New Yorkers will be seeing increased security and police presence in the coming days, “but that’s only because it’s an abundance of caution,” Cuomo said. The city’s Halloween parade will continue as planned — but with a lot more security, including blocker trucks and long guns.“We know that this action was intended to break our spirit, but we also know New Yorkers are strong,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “We have been tested before as a city, very near the site of today’s tragedy, and New Yorkers do not give in to these kinds of actions. We’ll respond as we always do: We will be undeterred.”
President Donald Trump has already weighed in, calling the driver a “very sick and deranged person.”
What are officials saying?
He later tweeted about “defeating” ISIS, and issuing an order for the DHS to “step up our already Extreme Vetting Program.”
Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, also put out a statement after the attack.“London stands in grief and solidarity with the great city of New York tonight after the despicable and cowardly terrorist attack in Manhattan,” he said. “My heart goes out to the victims and their families.”