BY COLIN MIXSON
A suspected terrorist killed eight people and injured 12 others with a pickup truck he allegedly drove onto a bike path bordering West Street in Lower Manhattan Tuesday, in the deadliest act of terror to rock the city since 9/11, according to officials.
“This was … 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,” said Mayor de Blasio at a press conference shortly after the mayhem.
Sayfullo Saipov was behind the wheel of the truck he rented from Home Depot when he entered the bike path near Houston Street at 3:05 pm and accelerated to high speeds heading south towards the Battery Tunnel, crushing cyclists and pedestrians along the way, according to Police Commissioner James O’Neill.
A chilling scene of bodies, bikes, and car parts littered the bike path in the suspect’s wake, and good Samaritans who witnessed the carnage rushed to lend assistance, according to one witness.
“I see a huge pile of completely trashed bicycles covered in what looked like parts of cars,” said Brooklyn resident Greg Ahl. “There was nobody standing up. Nobody was moving.”
His rampage continued more than 15 blocks down to Chambers Street, where Saipov collided with a school bus, injuring two adults and two children, according to O’Neill.
The man sprang from the truck wielding two pistols, a pellet and paintball gun, and stalked amongst cars on West Street, before sprinting towards a group of nearby children, according to 15-year-old Thibeaud Roy, who ran for cover when he spotted the weapons.
The attack was ended by 28-year-old police officer Ryan Nash, who wounded Saipov with a shot to the abdomen, and the suspected terrorist was transported to a nearby hospital for treatment and interrogation, according to police.
Of the 20 victims, six were found dead at the scene by paramedics who rushed 14 others to three area hospitals for treatment, where another two victims perished, according to Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro.
Three victims have been released from the hospital, and four suffered critical injuries, but are in stable condition. The remaining five victims were seriously injured, with wounds including major head, neck, back, and chest trauma, in addition to one victim who required multiple amputations, Nigro said.
Saipov, a permanent legal resident, emigrated from Uzbekistan to the United States in 2010, where he found work as an Uber driver.
Investigators searching Saipov’s home found notes indicating he carried out the attack in the name of ISIS, following months of planning, and his attack closely mirrored strategies published on social media by the terrorist organization, according to John Miller, Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counter Terrorism at the NYPD.
The attack is not considered part of a wider terrorist plot, however, and the suspect is thought to have acted as a lone-wolf killer, according to Governor Cuomo.
“There’s no evidence to suggest a wider plot, or wider scheme,” said Cuomo.
The attack drew a massive emergency response, and West Street from 14th Street down to the Battery Tunnel is expected to remain closed in both directions until Wednesday evening to accommodate the ongoing investigation, according to police.
New Yorkers were also told to expect an increased police presence in various forms — including plainclothes officers, heavy weapons teams, and rooftop snipers — throughout the five boroughs and within the transit system, as security remains on high alert following the attack.
The New York City Marathon, which is expected to draw some 50,000 runners, will go on as planned on Sunday, although athletes and spectators should expect a high security presence, police said.
In multiple press briefings held since the attack, both de Blasio and Cuomo urged New Yorkers to carry on without fear, in defiance of Saipov’s ultimate goal to spread terror with his attack.
“To New Yorkers, be New Yorkers, and live your lives, and don’t let them change us or deter us in any manner, shape, or form,” Cuomo said.
On Tuesday night, hours after the attack, more than a million costumed New Yorkers turned out for the 44th-annual Village Halloween Parade.
— with Rebecca White