UPDATED: 7:07 p.m. EST — A Florida man killed at least eight people and injured more than a dozen others after he drove a truck into a group of bicycle riders and pedestrians in downtown New York City on Tuesday afternoon. The New York Police Department was treating the incident as a terrorist attack after Sayfullo Saipov, 29, yelled “Allahu Akbar” before responding officers shot and arrested him, CNN reported.
Six people were pronounced dead on the scene in the TriBeCa neighborhood and two others died after being hospitalized, city and state officials said during a press conference. The “deliberate” violence appeared to be a “lone wolf attack,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
Two children were injured in the attack after Saipov allegedly veered off the West Side Highway at Chambers Street and drove into the abutting bike lane, mowing down bikers and pedestrians before exiting at Houston Street and colliding with a school bus. Armed with two pellet guns, Saipov reportedly exited the truck and weaved through traffic on foot before he was shot in the hip.
The style of the attack and the fact that the suspect shouted the Arabic phrase commonly said by jihadists before suicide attacks led officials to determine that it was a terrorist attack, NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said during the press release. “Allahu Akbar,” translated as “Allah is the greatest,” is associated with violence committed in the name of Islam.
Saipov, who is originally from Uzbekistan but also reportedly has ties to New Jersey, was driving a rented Home Depot truck when he launched his alleged attack, according to the New York Daily News. He reportedly arrived to the U.S. in 2010.
As many as eight shots were fired off before police responded and ordered Saipov to surrender, an Uber driver told the Associated Press. “I saw a lot of blood over there. A lot of people on the ground,” said Chen Yi. It was not immediately clear if those shots came from Saipov’s pellet guns or law enforcement.
The crash and shooting in broad daylight took place near a prestigious public high school shortly after 3 p.m. local time.
“What happened was there was a car crash… he came out of one of the cars. He had two guns. He was running around Chambers and somebody started to chase him,” a 14-year-old Stuyvesant High School student told the New York Post. “I heard four to six gunshots – everybody starts running.”
Photos and video footage from the scene were quickly posted to social media.