NEW YORK - A 29-year-old man driving a rental truck plowed down people on a Manhattan bike path Tuesday in what authorities described as a terrorist attack that killed eight and injured 11 before the suspect was shot and arrested by police.
A sunny fall day along the Hudson River erupted in chaos around the time students were getting out from nearby Stuyvesant High School when a rented Home Depot truck turned on to the bike path along the West Side Highway.
Witnesses say the speeding truck struck unsuspecting bicyclists and pedestrians while onlookers screamed and scattered. The truck then veered left toward Chambers Street, where it collided with a small school bus, injuring two adults and two children inside, officials said.
According to a video from the scene, the man then jumped out of the wrecked vehicle brandishing what appeared to be handguns. Some witnesses said he shouted "Allahu akbar," meaning "God is great" in Arabic.
Law enforcement officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss an open investigation, identified the suspect as Sayfullo Saipov, an Uzbek immigrant who had been living in Tampa, Fla.
The attack could intensify the political debate over immigration and security. President Trump has argued for much tougher screening of immigrants to prevent terrorism, and opponents of those policies have sought to block his efforts in the courts. Uzbekistan was not among the countries named in any version of the president's travel ban, which largely targeted a number of majority-Muslim countries.
Trump responded to the attack on Twitter, saying it "looks like another attack by a very sick and deranged person." He tweeted a short time later: "We must not allow ISIS to return, or enter, our country after defeating them in the Middle East and elsewhere. Enough!"
There was no immediate indication that the attack had been directed by the Islamic State. However, the group has called on its supporters in Western countries to launch their own attacks, using anything at hand as weapons, including vehicles.
Inside the rental truck, investigators found a handwritten note in which Saipov had declared his allegiance to the Islamic State, according to officials.
Saipov is expected to survive, meaning investigators will likely have a chance to question him about his motive for the attack, but so far, they said, he appears to have been a "lone wolf" suspect.
He had been living in Paterson, N.J., before the attack, and rented the vehicle in that state before driving it into Manhattan, officials said.
The violence was terrifyingly similar to vehicle attacks carried out in Europe, where Islamic State supporters have used cars and trucks to strike pedestrians on crowded streets, a tactic that has been employed in France, Britain, Germany, Sweden, and Spain.
"This certainly bears all the hallmarks of an ISIS-inspired or al-Qaeda-inspired attack," said Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, whom the FBI briefed on the attack Tuesday evening. "We have to expect that as the capital of the caliphate has now fallen, there are going to be increasing efforts to show that they remain dangerous and lethal, and to expand the virtual caliphate. But at this point, we don't know whether this was an ISIS-directed attack or merely someone acting out of radical inspiration."
Antonio Valasquez, 28, said he saw the truck speed by as he left a restaurant and then heard a crash. "I didn't really understand, you know, at first what was happening," he said. Valasquez said he heard what appeared to be gunshots shortly after but couldn't be sure. "I was running away."
An officer from the First Precinct approached Saipov and shot him in the abdomen, police said. He was taken to a hospital, but officials did not discuss his condition or location. The weapons he was brandishing turned out to be a pellet gun and a paintball gun, police said.
Rabbi Chaim Zaklos was picking up about half a dozen children from school to escort them to Hebrew school nearby when he encountered the scene. Police were pushing people away, and he could see abandoned bikes and what appeared to be uprooted trees nearby.
"It was obvious something drastic was happening, so I just wanted to get the kids someplace safe," said Zaklos, 35.
"This is a very painful day in our city," New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said. "Based on the information we have at this moment, this was an act of terror, a particularly cowardly act of terror aimed at innocent civilians."
Saipov moved to the United States from Uzbekistan about six years ago, said Dilnoza Abdusamatova, 24, who said Saipov stayed with her family in Cincinnati for his first two weeks in the country because their fathers were friends. Some officials said he arrived in 2010.
Abdusamatova said Saipov then moved to Florida to start a trucking company. Her family members think he got married about a year after arriving in the United States and may now have two children. Around that time, she said, he cut off contact with them.
"He stopped talking to us when he got married," Abdusamatova said.
Saipov had lived in an apartment complex, Heritage at Tampa, near the Hillsborough River. On Tuesday evening, two plainclothes investigators were seen departing the community, having interviewed several residents and others in the surrounding neighborhood. The investigators declined to answer any questions.
"Four FBI agents came and told me he used to live here," said Venessa Jones, who said she lives in an apartment above the one Saipov rented. Neighbors at the complex said they didn't know Saipov.
Saipov was cited in Pennsylvania for traffic violations in 2012 and 2015.
He was stopped by a state trooper on Aug. 25, 2012, in Palmyra Township, east of Scranton, court records show. He pleaded guilty that November to one violation, and a second citation was withdrawn.
On March 26, 2015, he was stopped by police in Mount Holly Springs Borough, southwest of Harrisburg. He pleaded guilty that April to two violations.
In both years, his home address was listed as Paterson, N.J.
Officials said they had no information to suggest that the attacker had any accomplices or that there was a further threat.
Inquirer staff writer Bob Moran contributed to this article.