At least eight people have been killed and several others injured after a vehicle plowed into a pedestrian and cycle path in New York City, US police and local residents say, with reports of gunfire heard in the area.
The incident took place in downtown Manhattan on Tuesday, when a pick-up truck drove the wrong way down the bike path alongside the West Side Highway at full speed and struck several cyclists near the World Trade Center memorial.
Witnesses said bodies were lying motionless on the cycle path outside Stuyvesant High School, one of the city’s public schools, and that they had heard about nine or 10 shots.
Denouncing the deadly incident as a “cowardly act of terror,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the attack was “aimed at innocent civilians, aimed at people going about their lives, who had no idea what was about to hit them.”
Shortly after the incident, US President Donald Trump wrote on his twitter page that, “In NYC, looks like another attack by a very sick and deranged person,” adding that, “Law enforcement is following this closely. NOT IN THE USA!”Trump also stressed that America must not let Daesh (ISIL) terrorists return to or enter the US after they are beaten overseas.
“We must not allow ISIL to return, or enter, our country after defeating them in the Middle East and elsewhere. Enough!” he noted.
At a news conference, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the suspect appeared to have acted alone, noting that, “There’s no evidence to suggest a wider plot or a wider scheme. These are the actions of one individual meant to cause pain and harm and probably death.”
Initial investigations by the police indicated that the suspect of the Tuesday attack was a 29-year-old Uzbek citizen, Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, who came to the US in 2010 and lived in Florida.
The New York Police Department (NYPD) said the suspect was shot in the leg when officers arrived on the scene and was later arrested.
“The vehicle struck multiple people on the path. There are several fatalities and numerous people injured,” the NYPD said in a statement. “The vehicle continued south striking another vehicle. The suspect exited the vehicle displaying imitation firearms and was shot by officers. The suspect is in custody.”
Two US government sources said the Tuesday incident was being treated as a “terrorist attack,” and that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had joined the NYPD in investigating the deadly incident.
Reacting to the deadly incident on Tuesday, British Prime Minister Theresa May said she was appalled by the attack and that London stood with New York. “Together we will defeat the evil of terrorism,” she said.
French President Emmanuel Macron also expressed solidarity with victims of the attack, saying, “Our fight for freedom unites us more than ever.”
Police called on the public to avoid the area as a major emergency services operation got under way.
The latest incident came five months after a speeding vehicle hit pedestrians on a sidewalk in New York City’s Times Square on May 18, killing at least one person and injuring 22 others.