On Halloween night, in the deadliest terror attack in New York since 9/11, eight people were killed and twelve injured, including two children, when a man drove a Home Depot rental truck on the Hudson River Greenway, the city’s busiest bike path. The section of the bike path in question was near Stuyvesant High School, about 1 km away from Ground Zero. After crashing into a school bus, injuring two children and two adults, 29-year-old Sayfullo Saipov left the truck displaying “imitation firearms” and shouting, “Allahu Akbar,” according to witnesses. The suspect was later shot nonfatally by NYPD Officer Ryan Nash, 28, and taken into custody. Officials, unauthorized to discuss the investigation, released his identity under the condition of anonymity.
Among the casualties was Darren Drake, a Master’s student in Stevens’s Information Systems program. Five friends from Argentina were also killed in the rampage. The only New Yorker killed in the attack was Nicholas Cleeves, a 23-year-old software developer.
There have been multiple conflicting, unconfirmed reports of notes and/or flags indicating ISIS support found in the truck. The NYPD found ISIS beheading and shooting videos on one of two phones in the truck, which they believe may have inspired the killer. Another video on the phone demonstrated how to build an explosive device. John Miller, the NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence & Counter-terrorism, said in a press conference that Saipov “appears to have followed, almost exactly to a T, the instructions that ISIS has put out.” Since 2016, ISIS has killed scores via truck attacks in France, Germany, and England. Saipov was brought into a federal courthouse in a wheelchair and handcuffs on charges of providing material support to terrorist groups and destruction of motor vehicles. The FBI is looking for a second man who they believe was involved in the attack. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo stated that Saipov was a “lone wolf” and there is no evidence of a wider plot.
Saipov planned to continue the rampage for a few more miles until the Brooklyn Bridge. He is an Uzbek citizen who came to the U.S. legally seven years ago. He has a Florida driver’s license but may have been living in Clifton, NJ for the past six months. Uber says Saipov passed their background check and has been one of their drivers for six months.
After the attack, President Trump tweeted out “thoughts, condolences, and prayers” to those affected before attacking the state’s senior senator’s policies: “The terrorist came into our country through what is called the ‘Diversity Visa Lottery Program,’ a Chuck Schumer beauty. I want merit-based.” The “Diversity Visa Lottery Program” is referring to the green card lottery, which distributes up to 55,000 visas annually to countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S. Senator Schumer responded first by criticizing Trump for politicizing a tragedy so soon and his proposed budget: “Calling on Pres Trump to rescind his proposed cuts to anti-terrorism funding immediately – our city relies on it to snuff out attacks.”
The city’s activities continue on despite the attack. The Halloween parade in the Village that night continued as planned, and the NYC Marathon on Nov. 5 will proceed as planned. Despite no evidence or credible threats of an attack, the NYPD is adding more sniper teams, bomb-sniffing dogs, helicopters, sand truck barricades, and other counter-terrorism measures along the route and in the subway.