A man driving a Home Depot pickup truck killed eight people at 3:05 pm on Tuesday, October 31st, in Lower Manhattan. He was driving a pickup truck which hopped a curb at West Houston Street, proceeding to drive South for several blocks on the bike path of Lower Manhattan’s West Side Highway. Six people were pronounced dead at the scene, and two died in the hospital. A dozen others were transported to the hospital with serious injuries. The attack took place very close to the 9/11 memorial.
According to ABC news, witness Andrew Howell said he was “walking along the bike path when he saw a truck plow into two cyclists riding about 20 feet in front of him; he said the impact sent one of the victims straight up into the air, and the man was motionless when he landed back on the ground. The driver then continued at a high speed before crashing.”
After disrupting the bike path, he continued down Chamber Street where he collided with a school bus and injured two children and two adults. According to the New York Post, he then exited his vehicle holding what witnesses thought were two handguns. A uniformed policeman shot the suspect in the abdomen, and the suspect was wounded and transported to the hospital. After the scene, a paintball gun and a pellet gun were the only arms recovered from the suspect’s possession.
The suspect has been identified as 29-year-old Sayfullo Saipov of Tampa, Florida, who moved to the United States from Uzbekistan six years ago. According to the New York Post, witnesses reported him exiting his vehicle after the crash screaming, “Allahu Akbar,” multiple times. This phrase translates to English as “god is greater.” It has been used in the Muslim religion for years, and according to The Sun, a British news company, it has been used in traditional Muslim prayers for centuries as a peaceful reminder for religious commitment.
Although this phrase was first used in a peaceful celebration of religion, it has turned into a phrase that is often shouted by terrorists. According to The Sun, “Allahu Akbar became the call of choice for Islamist terrorists following the 9/11 attacks after it was found in a four page document in the luggage of the suspected ringleader, Mohamed Atta.” In that four page document, this ringleader instructed his fellow Islamic terrorists to shout Allahu Akbar because it struck fear in the hearts of non-believers.
The attack caused panic in the residents of Manhattan and for those planning to go out and celebrate Halloween. According to CBS, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio stated,“We know this action was intended to break our spirit… We will respond as we always do: We will be undeterred.” Because of this statement, officials said that the annual Greenwich Village Halloween Parade would still go on as it would have, though it would occur with a heavily armed police force. For this reason, according to CNN, “The FBI’s Terrorism Task Force is taking over the lead of the investigation.”
According to the Washington Post, United States New York Governer Andrew M. Cuomo said that the attacker left a note in his truck pledging allegiance to the Islamic State. Yet the Islamic State, which has in the past ,”called for supporters to use vehicles as weapons,” did not immediately claim responsibility for the New York attack, though according to a SITE intelligence group, Islamic State supporters, “cheered what happened.”
After the event, President Donald Trump tweeted, “In NYC, looks like another attack by a very sick and deranged person. Law enforcement is following this closely. NOT IN THE U.S.A.!”
Many at the school and the community have expressed sympathy for those affected by this attack and continue to hope to see a decrease in violence across our nation. Details on the suspect are still being confirmed.