Truck Driver Kills Eight in Lower Manhattan Terrorist Attack
Tom Winter, Corky Siemaszko, Phil Helsel and Jonathan Dienst
The gunman hopped out of the truck and shouted "Allahu Akbar" before firing a BB or pellet gun, four senior law enforcement sources told NBC News. Law enforcement sources said he left a note in the truck claiming he committed the attack for the Islamic State.
Saipov Sayfullo Habibullaevic St. Charles MO Dept of Corrections
A police officer on patrol in the area returned fire, hitting the suspect in the abdomen and ending the Halloween horror less than a mile from the World Trade Center, site of the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil on Sept. 11, 2001.
"This was an act of terror and particularly cowardly act of terror," Mayor Bill de Blasio said later at a briefing. "We know this action was intended to test our spirit."
The suspect was identified as a 29-year-old Uzbek immigrant named Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, who entered the U.S. in 2010, law enforcement officials told NBC News.
While police rushed the wounded suspect to Bellevue Hospital, six of the victims — all men — were pronounced dead at the scene and two more died later, Police Commissioner James O'Neill said.
"Today there was a loss of innocent life in lower Manhattan," O'Neill said. "This is a tragedy of the greatest magnitude."
O'Neill did not identify the Home Depot from where the truck was rented. Nor would O'Neill comment on whether the suspect lived in New York City or was a "radicalized American."
But the weapons they recovered turned out to be a pellet gun and a paint ball gun. And records revealed he lived for a time in Paterson, New Jersey.
O'Neill also did not immediately identify the officer who shot Saipov. "I want to commend the response of our NYPD officer that was on post near the location who stopped the carnage moments after it began," he said.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said this appeared to be the work of a "lone wolf."
"There's no evidence to suggest a wider plot," he said.
The FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force joined in the investigation.
Meanwhile, a friend of the suspect who said he met Saipov five years ago when they both lived in Florida, told NBC News "he is no terrorist."
"He was a very happy guy," said Kobiljon Matkarov, who added that Saipov was married with kids and worked as a truck driver. "He liked the U.S."
The tragedy began unfolding at 3:05 p.m. when the southbound truck suddenly veered onto a bike path on West Street near Houston Street.
“He entered the bike bath at Houston Street and exited the bike path when he collided with the bus at Chambers street,” O’Neill said.
Authorities investigate the scene near a covered body on a bike path in New York on Tuesday. Bebeto Matthews / AP
There were two adults and two children in the bus, the commissioner said.
"You could see cyclists and pedestrians badly injured," said MSNBC correspondent and producer Louis Burgdorf, who was outside a building where Canal Street meets the West Side Highway, which is north of Chambers and the highway.
Witness Tawhid Kabir Xisan, 20, said he saw a man running in the street and carrying what appeared to be two guns near Chambers Street.
"He was just running around in the middle of the street," said Xisan, a student at Borough of Manhattan Community College. "I heard five to six gunshots and then when the gunshots were happening, I didn’t see what happened on the road because I was scared."
When he looked up again, Xisan said "I saw the guy that had the two guns on the ground. Three or four officers were holding him down."
Initially, the incident was reported as a shooting near Chambers Street and the West Side Highway, which is near Public School 89.
Authorities respond at the scene near a damaged school bus in New York on Tuesday. Mark Lennihan / AP
Another witness told NBC New York that after smashing into the school bus a man got out of the truck "and started shooting up the place."
"All the kids were in the courtyard of P.S. 89 and started running," another witness said. He said he went to the struck school bus and one side was caved in, with one girl struck above a wheel well and two other children trapped by a window.
"It was all blown out," he said.
In Washington, White House officials said President Donald Trump was receiving "ongoing" briefings about the attack in his hometown.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of today’s terrorist attack in New York City and their families," Trump said later in a statement. "My Administration will provide its full support to the New York City Police Department, including through a joint investigation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. We offer our thanks to the first responders who stopped the suspect and rendered immediate aid to the victims of this cowardly attack. "
Investigators inspect the renatal truck in New York on Tuesday. Don Emmert / AFP - Getty Images
As detectives continued to gather evidence at the crime scene and extra police were dispatched to the protect the thousands of revelers at the Halloween parade in Greenwich Village, the wrecked pickup sat surrounded by yellow police tape with its hazard lights blinking.