Officials are calling it a “terrorist act” as the they pieced together evidence in the horrific attack on a Manhattan bike path in New York.
Eight people were killed and numerous others wounded when a suspect rammed a pickup truck into pedestrians and collided with a school bus, according to AFP.
The suspect exited his rental vehicle holding up two fake guns, before being shot by police and taken into custody. The incident happened around 3:05 p.m. close to schools as children in America’s largest city celebrated Halloween.
Loved ones mourned the first deaths from a terror-linked attack in New York since September 11, 2001.
It was also the city’s first such incident since a pipe bomb explosion in September 2016 in Chelsea, lightly wounding 31 people. An American of Afghan descent, Ahmad Khan Rahimi, was convicted of terrorism over that attack earlier this month.
The city, which has frequently been on high security alert since the 2001 Al-Qaeda attacks on the Twin Towers, is America’s financial and entertainment capital, with a population of 8.5 million.
President Donald Trump decried the 29-year-old attacker, whose name and nationality has not yet been revealed, as “very sick” and a “deranged person.”
New York police chief James O’Neill said that eight people were killed, at least six of whom were men. Eleven people were taken to hospital with serious injuries.
The suspect drove a rented pickup truck from retailer Home Depot southbound down a bike and pedestrian lane, striking people before colliding with a school bus, injuring two adults and two children.
The suspect then stepped out of the vehicle, brandishing two apparent handguns, before being shot in the abdomen by a police officer, police said.
A paintball gun and pellet gun was recovered at the scene, police said.
“It’s a very painful day in our city. Horrible tragedy,” said New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“Let me be clear, based on the information we have at this moment, this was an act of terror and 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,” the mayor added.
“We at this moment based on the information we have, we know of eight innocent people who have lost their lives. And over a dozen more injured.”New York’s Democratic State Governor Andrew Cuomo noted that “New York is an international symbol of freedom and democracy.”
“That also makes us a target for those people who oppose those concepts and we’ve lived with this before,” he added.
The last mass casualty incident in New York was on May 18, when a US Navy veteran plowed a car into pedestrians in Times Square, killing an 18-year-old woman from Michigan and injuring 22 other people.
Police patrols in Times Square, one of the world’s busiest districts, had already been beefed up in recent years, following a 2010 car bombing attempt and in the wake of attacks in Europe.
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