A man in a rented pickup truck drove onto a busy bicycle path near the World Trade Centre memorial on Wednesday, killing at least eight people and injuring several others in what the mayor called “a particularly cowardly act of terror.”
The 29-year-old driver was shot by police after jumping out of the truck with what turned out to be a fake gun in each hand, officials said. He was taken into custody. His condition was not immediately disclosed.
At least eight people were killed and 11 other injured in Lower Manhattan today after a gunman in a truck plowed through a busy bike path, an incident the US termed as an “act of terrorism”.
The suspect, a 29-year-old man, was shot in the stomach before being arrested.
US President Donald Trump denounced the attack, saying “we must not allow ISIS to return”.
“In NYC, looks like another attack by a very sick and deranged person. Law enforcement is following this closely. NOT IN THE U.S.A.!” Trump tweeted.
“We must not allow ISIS to return, or enter, our country after defeating them in the Middle East and elsewhere. Enough!” he said in another tweet.
The New York Police Department said the suspect drove down his truck south on the path striking multiple people.
“Eight people were killed, 11 have serious but non-life-threatening injuries,” the police said.
The incident that took place in Manhattan, the most densely populated of New York City’s 5 boroughs, has sent shocking waves across the country.
“The President has been briefed on the incident in NYC by Chief of Staff (John) Kelly and will be continually updated as more details are known. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders.
Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke has been briefed on the apparent act of terrorism that occurred in New York City, an official statement said.
The department is closely monitoring the situation and working with federal, state and local partners in responding to and investigating this tragedy.
“We are referring all questions about the investigation to the FBI and the New York Police Department,” the statement said.
“We have recently seen attacks like this one throughout the world. DHS and its law enforcement partners remain vigilant and committed to safeguarding the American people,” it said.
According to the police, at approximately 3:05 pm (local time) the suspect drove a rented Home Depot truck onto the bike and pedestrian path at West St/Houston St driving south.
While driving south on the path the truck collided with a school bus at West St & Chambers St. After colliding with the school bus, the man exited holding two firearms. An officer assigned to the area fired, striking him in the stomach, the police said.
“The driver of the truck was taken into custody. A paintball gun and pellet gun were recovered from the scene,” the police said.
Following a briefing from FBI officials, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer as one of thousands of New Yorkers who regularly rides on the path where this attack took place, he is grateful to the NYPD and first responders who work day in and day out to keep people, and to those that responded to the scene today.
“As the investigation unfolds, it’s critical that we learn what we can from this incident and do everything we can to prevent this from happening again. The scourge of terrorism is unfortunately still with us, and we must remain vigilant as ever,” Schumer said.
This evening, all Americans were “horrified and heartbroken” by the despicable act of terror in Manhattan, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said.
“Tonight and in the days ahead, we join in mourning the dead, praying for the wounded, and sending our love to the people of New York City,” she said.
“As we await further news, we must continue to be smart and strong to keep the American people safe, not reckless and rash. Our nation’s courage and resilience will always defeat the hatred and violence of terrorists,” Pelosi said.
Earlier, witnesses described a scene of panic and blood, with people screaming in fear and the path strewn with bodies and mangled bicycles.
Police said the vehicle, a rented Home Depot truck, entered the bike path on West Street a few blocks from the new World Trade Centre and mowed down several people. The truck also slammed into a small yellow school bus, injuring two adults and two children.
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,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
Police secure an area in New York City after an incident Mayor Bill de Blasio called an "act of terror" in which at least eight people died pic.twitter.com/rdea0FGwbr— AFP news agency (@AFP) 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.
The attack closed roads across the western edge of Manhattan along the Hudson River and sent uniformed officers rushing to the neighbourhood as people prepared for Halloween festivities, including an annual parade through Greenwich Village.
Eugene Duffy, 43, a chef at a waterfront restaurant, said he was crossing West Street when he heard something, turned back and saw the white pickup on the bike path.
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.
“So many police came and they didn’t know what was happening,” Duffy said. “People were screaming. Females were screaming at the top of their lungs.”
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.
The White House said President Donald Trump was briefed on the attack.