“Based on the information we have at this moment, this was an act of terror and a particularly cowardly act of terror, ” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told a media conference.
“Based on the information that we have, we know of eight innocent people who have lost their lives and over a dozen more injured.”
NYPD Police Commissioner James O’Neill said the 29-year-old suspect was shot in the stomach by officers after brandishing what appeared to be a pellet gun and paint ball gun and taken into custody.
He said the driver hit a school bus, injuring two children and two adults before getting out.
Statements made by the suspect were “consistent” with a terrorist attack, he said.
Law enforcement officials later identified the man as Sayfullo Saipov. He reportedly came from Uzbekistan and had with a Florida drivers licence.
He shouted “allahu akbar” as he got out of the vehicle, witnesses said.
President Donald Trump tweeted: “looks like another attack by a very sick and deranged person. Law enforcement is following this closely. NOT IN THE U.S.A.!” but described it as a terrorist attack in a subsequent tweet.
“We must not allow ISIS to return, or enter our country after defeating them in the middle east and elsewhere. Enough,” he tweeted.
A police spokesman earlier posted a photo showing a white ute on the bike path with its front end smashed. The truck had the logo of the Home Depot hardware store chain on its door.
An witness told ABC Channel 7 that he saw a white pick-up drive south down the bike path alongside the West Side Highway at full speed and hit several people. The witness, who was identified only as Eugene, said bodies were lying outside Stuyvesant High School, one of the city’s elite public schools.
He also reported hearing about nine or 10 shots.
A video apparently filmed at the scene and circulated online showed scattered bikes on the bike path and two people lying on the ground.
Uber driver Chen Yi said he saw a truck plough into people on a popular bike path adjacent to the West Side Highway. He said he then heard seven to eight shots and then police pointing a gun at a man kneeling on the pavement.
“I saw a lot of blood over there. A lot of people on the ground,” Yi said.
His passenger, Dmitry Metlitsky, said he also saw police standing near a man who was on his knees with his hands up, and another man bleeding on the ground nearby. He said the truck had also collided with a small school bus and one other vehicle.
Video appears to show suspect in NYC truck attack running outside of his vehicle and then being taken into custody https://t.co/IML42gnQN1 pic.twitter.com/dX8F6RcY9T
— CNN (@CNN) October 31, 2017
No Australians are believed to have been caught up in the attack.
“The State Department has informed us that at this stage they do not believe any Australians are affected but the situation is still unfolding,” Acting Prime Minister Julie Bishop told ABC radio today.
Australia’s Consul-General to New York Alastair Walton was in the area along the Hudson River when the attack happened.
“He said there are children everywhere in New York today because of course it’s Halloween and it’s an enormous celebration,” Bishop said.
“We think of those who have been affected by this, particularly those who have been killed, their family and friends must be devastated.”
Bishop advised any Australians in New York to follow the direction of local authorities.
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