A truck driver mowed down several victims in Lower Manhattan on Tuesday, killing eight people and injuring 11 before being shot by a police officer in what officials are calling the deadliest terrorist attack on New York City since Sept. 11, 2001.
The attack began at approximately 3:05 p.m. when a truck driving the wrong way down a bike path along the Hudson River came crashing to a stop near the corner of Chambers and West Streets by Stuyvesant High School.
Police say the driver, whom they identified as 29-year-old Sayfullo Saipov, then smashed into a school bus, jumped out of his truck and and fled.
He ran along the highway waving a pellet gun and paintball gun and shouting “Allahu akbar,” – Arabic for “God is great,” – before he was shot in the abdomen by the officer.
Saipov remained in critical condition on Tuesday evening.
One student who witnessed the attack told The New York Times that at first he and his friends “thought it was a Halloween prank.”
The chaos unfolded as several schools were letting out on Halloween afternoon, thousands of revelers filled the streets in costume and several local shops were open for trick or treaters.
Mayor Bill de Blasio declared the rampage a terrorist attack and said at a news conference, “Based on information we have at this moment, this was an act of terror, and a particularly cowardly act of terror aimed at innocent civilians.”
Investigators reportedly discovered handwritten notes in Arabic near the truck that indicated allegiance to the Islamic State, but law enforcement officials have stated that they are not aware of a connection between Saipov and ISIS and are treating the incident as a lone wolf attacker.
Five of the people killed were Argentine tourists who traveled to New York for a 30-year high school reunion celebration, whom authorities have named as Hernán Mendoza, Diego Angelini, Alejandro Pagnucco, Ariel Erlij and Hernán Ferruchi. Martín Ludovico Marro.
Belgian officials have stated that one of the victims killed and three of the injured were from Belgium.
Saipov came to the United States from Uzbekistan in 2010, and had a green card that allowed permanent legal residence.
He had apparently lived in Paterson, New Jerwey and Tampa, Florida, and an official said that he rented the truck used in the attack from a Home Depot in Passaic, New Jersey.
According to authorities, a white Toyota minivan believed to belong to Saipov was found parked there.
Saipov had been investigated by federal authorities, according to investigators – though the FBI has offered no comment on whether the suspect was known to the bureau, nor revealed whether Saipov has any connection to a terrorism investigation by the F.B.I., the Department of Homeland Security, the New York Police Department and federal prosecutors in Brooklyn.
The two-year investigation resulted in charges against five men from Uzbekistan and one from Kazakhstan of providing material support to ISIS.
F.B.I. agents were expected to search Saipov’s home in Paterson and his car, according to local law enforcement officials. Authorities also plan to search a phone they recovered near the scene of the attack.
Read more: The New York Times