Suspect in deadly NYC terror attack is 29-year-old Tampa man

Sayfullo H. Saipov

NEW YORK (AP)  A man in a rented pickup truck mowed down pedestrians and bicyclists along a busy bike path near the World Trade Center memorial Tuesday, killing at least eight and injuring 11 others in what the mayor called “a particularly cowardly act of terror.”

The 29-year-old driver was shot in the abdomen by police and taken into custody after jumping out of the truck with what turned out to be a fake gun in each hand and shouting “Allahu Akbar!” officials said. His condition was not immediately released.

The suspect was identified as Sayfullo H. Saipov, 29, of Tampa, CBS News reports.

Witnesses described a scene of panic and blood, with people screaming in fear and the path strewn with bodies and mangled bicycles.

The attack closed streets across the western edge of Manhattan along the Hudson River and sent officers rushing to the neighborhood as people prepared for Halloween festivities, including the annual parade through Greenwich Village.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called it a “lone wolf” attack and said there was no evidence to suggest it was part of a wider plot.

When asked about that at a news conference, New York City Police Commissioner James O’Neill replied: “Yeah. He did make a statement when he exited the vehicle.” He said the statement and the method of attack led police to conclude it was a terrorist act.

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Posted by WINK News on Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A federal law enforcement source later confirmed with CBS News the suspect left a note that referenced the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

On Twitter, President Donald Trump called it “another attack by a very sick and deranged person” and declared, “NOT IN THE U.S.A.”

While police did not specifically blame the Islamic State for the New York bloodshed, Trump railed against the extremist group, tweeting, “We must not allow ISIS to return, or enter, our country after defeating them in the Middle East and elsewhere. Enough!”

Cities around the globe have been on alert against attacks by extremists in vehicles. The Islamic State has been encouraging its followers to mow down people, and England, France and Germany have all seen deadly vehicle attacks in recent months and years.

Argentina’s foreign ministry said five of the dead hailed from that country. Belgian officials said one of the dead was from there.

Records show Saipov was a commercial truck driver who formed a pair of businesses in Ohio after moving to the U.S. The first business, Sayf Motors Inc., used the address of a family friend near Cincinnati with whom Saipov had stayed for a couple of weeks after his arrival in the country. The second, Bright Auto LLC, used an address near Cleveland.

A trucking industry website listed Saipov at a Paterson, New Jersey, address that authorities were searching Tuesday night. Court records related to trucking-related infractions list Saipov with addresses in Paterson and the Cleveland suburbs.

The family friend with whom Saipov stayed in Ohio, Dilnoza Abdusamatova, told The Cincinnati Enquirer Saipov was “really calm” and worked hard.

“He always used to work,” Abdusamatova said. “He wouldn’t go to parties or anything. He only used to come home and rest and leave and go back to work.”

Police said the vehicle, a rented Home Depot truck, entered the bike path at about 3 p.m. on West Street a few blocks from the new World Trade Center – the site of the deadliest terror attack in U.S. history – and mowed down several people. The truck then turned at Chambers Street near the trade center site, striking a small yellow school bus and injuring two adults and two children.

In addition to those killed, 11 people were seriously injured, police said.

A paintball gun and a pellet gun were found at the scene, police said.

“This was an act of terror, and 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,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

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Posted by WINK News on Tuesday, October 31, 2017

At least two bodies could be seen lying on the path beneath tarps, and the front end of the pickup was smashed in.

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.

Eugene Duffy, a chef at a waterfront restaurant, said, “So many police came, and they didn’t know what was happening. People were screaming. Females were screaming at the top of their lungs.”

After seeing the mangled bikes, he ran south, seeing the school bus that appeared to have been T-boned, and officers at the scene, guns drawn, ducked behind patrol cars.

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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.

Video footage of the school bus showed its right side bashed in, and firefighters surrounding it as they worked to free children inside.