Manhattan attack: Eight dead after motorist drives down cycle path

Suspect who is injured and in custody identified as 29-year-old Sayfullo Saipov

Several people may have been hit by a vehicle in lower Manhattan at about the time of a reported shooting, and at least five people were hurt according to local reports. Video: Reuters/ @useJeff/ Ricardo Mantilla

 

At least eight people are dead and numerous people are injured after a motorist drove as many as 20 blocks down a busy bicycle path in New York on Tuesday and struck several people, then emerged from his vehicle screaming and holding two imitation firearms.

The driver was shot by police after jumping out of the rented Home Depot vehicle and was taken into custody.

The incident in lower Manhattan was being treated as a terrorist attack, two US government sources said.

The FBI has joined the New York City Police Department in investigating the incident.

“He [the driver] jumped out of the truck with a pellet gun, yelled, ‘Allahu Akbar [Arabic for ‘God is great’],’” a law enforcement official reported. Both the pellet gun and a paintball gun were recovered at the scene.

New York City police commissioner James O’Neill said at a news conference that the driver was a 29-year-old man. He confirmed that the driver’s statement on exiting the vehicle enabled officials “to label this a terrorist event”.

The suspect was later named as Sayfullo Saipov, an Uzbek national with a Florida driver’s licence. Police said he was expected to live.

New York police said the vehicle entered the cycle path that runs alongside the Hudson River on West Street a few streets from the World Trade Centre memorial before striking at least 15 people, leaving mangled bicycles behind.

The New York City Police Department, in a post on Twitter, said that the van also struck another vehicle, then the driver “got out displaying imitation firearms and was shot by police”.

The vehicle the van crashed into was a school bus. Two adults and two children were injured in that crash.

After crashing into the school bus, the truck eventually came to a rest near Chambers Street, facing eastbound.

The driver, who was shot several times, was being treated at a nearby hospital.

The police said they were not looking for additional suspects.

A large section of the West Side Highway was closed for investigation as hundreds of officers, including the bomb squad, responded to the scene.

New York mayor Bill de Blasio said the attacker had killed eight people in “a particularly cowardly act of terror”.

He said the attack was “aimed at innocent civilians going about their daily lives” and “eight innocent people have lost their lives and over a dozen more are injured”.

New York governor Andrew Cuomo said the cycle path incident was a “lone-wolf” attack, and there was no evidence it was part of a wider plot.

Witness accounts

One witness, John Williams, a 22-year-old student, told reporters at the scene that he heard about five gunshots before seeing a large man with curly hair being taken into custody. “He seemed very calm,” Mr Williams said. “He was not putting up a fight.”

The police have not confirmed any gunfire besides shots fired by officers.

An eyewitness told ABC Channel 7 that he saw a white pickup truck drive south down the bike path alongside the West Side Highway at full speed and hit several people.

The witness, a man identified by the name “Eugene”, said bodies were lying outside Stuyvesant High School, one of the city’s elite public schools.

Students at Stuyvesant High School reported that they saw a man shooting from a pickup truck, and then saw the truck turn and strike a school bus.

Ramon Cruz (27) said the driver appeared injured. Mr Cruz said he then heard someone yell: “He’s got a gun, run, run!”

Several nearby buildings, including the high school, were placed on lockdown during the incident.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said president Donald Trump had been briefed by White House chief of staff John Kelly and “will be continually updated as more details are known”.

She said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected.”

Mr Trump later tweeted: “In NYC, looks like another attack by a very sick and deranged person.”

He said law enforcement “is following” the attack closely before adding: “NOT IN THE USA!”

Vice-president Mike Pence also said those responsible for the attack “must be held accountable”.

New York Times, PA and Reuters