MANHATTAN (CN) — Eight people died and at least 11 were injured Tuesday in what New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said was a terrorist attack on innocent pedestrians and bicyclists on and around a busy bicycle path near the World Trade Center memorial.
“This is a very painful day in our city,” Mayor de Blasio said, addressing reporters at a briefing at One Police Plaza in New York.
“Based on the information we have this was an act of terror and a particularly cowardly act of terror,” the mayor added.
“We know this action was intended to break out spirit, but we also know New Yorkers are resilient,” he said.
New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo also spoke, assuring reporters and the public that the suspect appears to have been a lone wolf and that no information at present to suggest the incident was part of an organized plot.
Law enforcement sources identified the suspect as Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, a 29-year-old man from Tampa, Florida. He came to the U.S. in 2010 from Uzbekistan.
Though law enforcement presence around the city would be stepped up, Cuomo said, he urged New Yorkers to “be New Yorkers.”
“Live your life,” he said. “Don’t let them deter us in any way.”
Officials with the New York City Police Department said the incident started at about 3:05 p.m. when a truck rented from Home Depot entered the bicycle path at Houston Street and began plowing into people. The truck traveled to Chambers Street, where it re-entered the roadway and ran into a school bus containing two adults and two children.
The suspect then got out of the truck with what appeared to be two handguns. A police officer from New York’s 1st Precinct, whom Mayor de Blasio said just happened to be posted near the scene when the attack transpired, shot the assailant in the lower hip. The mayor credited the officer with “stopping the carnage.”
Police officials said the suspect made a statement at the scene that indicated his actions were an act of terror. He was transported to Bellevue Hospital.
CBS News’ senior investigative producer Pat Milton reported that statement was “Allahu Akbar,” Arabic for “God is great.”
A paintball gun and a pellet gun were recovered at the scene.
Six of victims died on the mile-long bike path between Houston and Chambers Street. Two people died at the hospital.
Of the injured, 11 people were transported to New York Presbyterian and another area hospital, though their injuries are not considered life-threatening.
Mayor De Blasio said the attack is being investigated by both the NYPD and the FBI.
“This is and will be a very thorough investigation,” he said. “People should go about their business knowing the NYPD and our partners will do their utmost to protect them and protect our city. The bottom line is we are going to go about our business and not be deterred.”
As if to underscore that latter point, city officials said the annual Greenwich Village Halloween Parade will take place as usual Tuesday night.
A man who was riding in an Uber along the West Side Highway near Chambers Street said he saw several bleeding people on the ground after a truck struck several people. Another witness said the truck had also collided with a small bus and one other vehicle.
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.
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.
His passenger, Dmitry Metlitsky, said he also saw police standing near a man who was on his knees with his hands up, and another man bleeding on the ground nearby. He said the truck had also collided with a small school bus and one other vehicle.
The White House released a statement Tuesday evening that said President Donald Trump has been briefed on the incident and will continue to be updated.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.