With Vehicle as Weapon of Terror, Lower Manhattan Bike Path Targeted | chelseanow.com

With Vehicle as Weapon of Terror, Lower Manhattan Bike Path Targeted

In the foreground, on West St., the Home Depot rental truck; the school bus it collided with can be seen in the background. Photo by Rebecca White.


NOTE: This article was updated on the afternoon of Nov. 2, with changes to reflect the FBI’s questioning of a second man in connection with the attack.

BY COLIN MIXSON | A suspected terrorist killed eight people and injured 12 others with a pickup truck he allegedly drove onto a bike path bordering West St. in Lower Manhattan Tues., Oct. 31, in the deadliest act of terror to rock the city since 9/11, according to officials.

“This was… 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,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio at a press conference shortly after the mayhem.

Sayfullo Saipov, 29, was behind the wheel of the truck he rented from Home Depot when he entered the bike path near Houston St. at 3:05 p.m. and accelerated to high speeds heading south toward the Battery Tunnel, crushing cyclists and pedestrians along the way, according to Police Commissioner James O’Neill.

A chilling scene of bodies, bikes, and car parts littered the bike path in the suspect’s wake, and Good Samaritans who witnessed the carnage rushed to lend assistance, according to one witness.

“I see a huge pile of completely trashed bicycles covered in what looked like parts of cars,” said Brooklyn resident Greg Ahl. “There was nobody standing up. Nobody was moving.”

His rampage continued more than 15 blocks down to Chambers St., where Saipov collided with a school bus, injuring two adults and two children, according to O’Neill.

The man sprang from the truck wielding two pistols, a pellet gun and a paintball gun, then stalked amongst cars on West St., before sprinting toward a group of nearby children, according to 15-year-old Thibeaud Roy, who ran for cover when he spotted the weapons.

The attack was ended by 28-year-old NYPD Officer Ryan Nash, who wounded Saipov with a shot to the abdomen. The suspected terrorist was transported to a nearby hospital for treatment and interrogation, according to police.

Of the 20 victims, six were found dead at the scene by paramedics who rushed 14 others to three area hospitals for treatment, where another two victims perished, according to FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro.

As we went to press on Wed., Nov. 1, three victims had been released from the hospital, and four who had suffered critical injuries were in stable condition. The remaining five victims were seriously injured, with wounds including major head, neck, back, and chest trauma, in addition to one victim who required multiple amputations, Nigro said.

Saipov, a permanent legal resident, emigrated from Uzbekistan to the United States in 2010, where he found work as an Uber driver.

Investigators searching Saipov’s Paterson, NJ home found notes indicating he carried out the attack in the name of ISIS, following months of planning, and his attack closely mirrored strategies published on social media by the terrorist organization, according to John Miller, Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counter Terrorism at the NYPD.

Flowers were already piling up Tues. afternoon at a makeshift shrine outside PS 234 on Greenwich St., near the end of the terrorist’s 15-block rampage. Photo by Milo Hess.

Though Governor Andrew Cuomo, in early comments, said, “There’s no evidence to suggest a wider plot, or wider scheme,” the FBI has questioned a second Uzbek man, Mukhammadzoir Kadirov, 32, in connection with the attack.

The attack drew a massive emergency response, and West St. from 14th St. down to the Battery Tunnel was expected to remain closed in both directions until the evening of Wed., Nov. 1, to accommodate the ongoing investigation, according to police.

New Yorkers were also told to expect an increased police presence in various forms — including plainclothes officers, heavy weapons teams, and rooftop snipers — throughout the five boroughs and within the transit system, as security remains on high alert following the attack.

A suspected terrorist drove this rental truck down 15 blocks of the West St. bike path on Oct. 31, killing eight people and injuring 12. Photo by Milo Hess.

The New York City Marathon, which is expected to draw some 50,000 runners, will go on as planned on Sun., Nov. 5, although athletes and spectators should expect a high security presence, police said.

In multiple press briefings held since the attack, both de Blasio and Cuomo urged New Yorkers to carry on without fear, in defiance of Saipov’s ultimate goal to spread terror with his attack.

“To New Yorkers, be New Yorkers, and live your lives, and don’t let them change us or deter us in any manner, shape, or form,” Cuomo said.

On Tuesday night, hours after the attack, more than a million costumed New Yorkers turned out for the 44th-annual Village Halloween Parade.

— Additional reporting by Rebecca White

Moving south, investigators combed West St. for evidence. Photo by Rebecca White.