NEW YORK (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — A motorist drove onto a busy bicycle path near the World Trade Center memorial and struck several people around 3:05 ET Tuesday, then emerged from the vehicle screaming and firing what appeared to be a gun, police and witnesses said.
At least eight people are dead and 15 hurt and the incident is being investigated as an act of terrorism.
The New York Police Department said one person identified as Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, 29, of Tampa, Florida is in custody.
Witnesses reported to police that the NYC terror suspect yelled “Allah Akbar” when exiting the truck, CBS News confirms.
The suspect then struck a school bus and came out carrying two guns. A paintball and pellet gun were recovered from the scene.
“It’s a very painful day in our city. Just to be clear, this was an act of terror. A cowardly act of terror aimed at innocent civilians,” said New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio.
“Our first responders did an extraordinary job. We have the finest security on the globe,” said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Police Commissioner James O’Neill was asked at a news conference whether the suspect shouted the phrase, which means “God is great” in Arabic, or something like it.
O’Neill replied: “Yeah. He did make a statement when he exited the vehicle,” though he declined to elaborate.
O’Neill says the method of attack and the suspect’s statement enabled officials “to label this a terrorist event.”
He says the 29-year-old man entered the bike path and drove south, hitting pedestrians and cyclists. He then hit a school bus, injuring at least two adults.
He says the man exited the vehicle brandishing a paintball gun and a pellet gun. He was then shot in the abdomen by a police officer and is now hospitalized.
The White House says President Donald Trump has been briefed on the vehicle that drove onto a bike path near the World Trade Center and struck several people.
President Trump said in a tweet, “In NYC, looks like another attack by a very sick and deranged person.” He says law enforcement “is following” the attack closely and adds, “NOT IN THE U.S.A.!”
President Trump later released the following statement:
Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of today’s terrorist attack in New York City and their families. 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. These brave men and women embody the true American spirit of resilience and courage. I will continue to follow developments closely.
A man who was riding in an Uber along the West Side Highway near Chambers Street said he saw several bleeding people on the ground after a truck struck several people. Another witness said the truck had also collided with a small bus and one other vehicle.
Tom Gay, a school photographer, was on Warren Street and heard people saying there was an accident. He went down to West Street and a woman came around the corner shouting, “He has a gun! He has a gun!”
Gay said he stuck his head around the corner and saw a slender man in a blue track suit running southbound on West Street holding a gun. He said there was a heavyset man pursuing him.
He said he heard five or six shots and the man in the tracksuit fell to the ground, gun still raised in the air. He said a man came over and kicked the gun out of his hand.
Uber driver Chen Yi said he saw a truck plow into people on a popular bike path adjacent to the West Side Highway. He said he then heard seven to eight shots and then police pointing a gun at a man kneeling on the pavement.
“I saw a lot of blood over there. A lot of people on the ground,” Yi said.
His passenger, Dmitry Metlitsky, said he also saw police standing near a man who was on his knees with his hands up, and another man bleeding on the ground nearby. He said the truck had also collided with a small school bus and one other vehicle.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued a statement on the attack in New York City.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)