A suspected terrorist plowed a truck down a bicycle path in lower Manhattan blocks from the site of the World Trade Center, killing eight and seriously wounding several more before an officer shot and arrested him.
New York remained under heightened security Tuesday night with heavily armed police deployed at transit stations and in front of its iconic buildings.
“Based on the information we have at this moment, this was an act of terror and a particularly cowardly act,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news briefing.
All of the dead were killed by the rented Home Depot truck that barreled down West Street shortly after 3 p.m., just as students in Halloween costumes filled the area after dismissal from an elementary school and a high school nearby. At least 11 people were seriously injured, Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said.
The driver, identified only as a 29-year-old man, traveled southbound several blocks before crashing into a school bus at the intersection of Chambers and West Streets, injuring two adults and two children, Police Commissioner James O’Neill said. After the man exited the truck wielding a pellet gun and a paint-ball gun, a patrolman confronted him and shot him in the abdomen. The man was transported to an undisclosed hospital, O’Neill said.
The city’s annual Greenwich Village and Brooklyn Halloween parades would go on as scheduled, as both the mayor and Governor Andrew Cuomo urged New Yorkers to go about their daily lives.
As they spoke, specially trained counter-terrorism teams and patrol officers were deployed throughout the city, at the parades, transit terminals, bridges and tunnels and well-known sites such as the Empire State Building and some corporate headquarters, O’Neill said.
Cuomo said the attack mirrored other "lone wolf" incidents such as the 19-ton cargo truck that drove through a crowd during Bastille Day celebrations last year in Nice, France, killing 86 and injuring 458.
“The truth is New York is an international symbol of freedom and democracy,” Cuomo said. “That also makes us a target for those people who oppose those concepts.”
The use of a rental truck occurred despite a police program that has enlisted 20,000 area merchants in guarding against the use of weaponized vehicles and other counter-terrorism training for hotels and dealers in hazardous materials, said John Miller, deputy commissioner for intelligence and counter-terrorism. He said officials would review their efforts in the aftermath of this incident.
President Donald Trump, a New York native, condemned the attack on Twitter, calling the suspected terrorist a “very sick and deranged person.” He followed up with a post offering condolences to the victims.
“My thoughts, condolences and prayers to the victims and families of the New York City terrorist attack,” Trump said. “God and your country are with you!”
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