UPDATE — 6:07 p.m. EDT: Federal prosecutors announced Wednesday that Sayfullo Saipov is being charged with providing material support to a terrorist organization and violence and destruction of a motor vehicle.
The FBI had been seeking a second suspect, one Mukhammadzoir Kadirov, in connection with the attack, but since announced they are no longer looking for that individual.
At a news conference earlier Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said President Trump considers Saipov an “enemy combatant” of the U.S., a designation which severely limits his constitutional rights.
Evoking memories of the March 22 terror attack in the heart of London, panic erupted Tuesday afternoon in New York’s Tribeca neighborhood as a rented van barreled down a street plowing into pedestrians and cyclists on a popular bike path in Manhattan.
Tuesday’s incident is the deadliest in New York City since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center.
A 29-year-old Uzbekistan man, Sayfullo Saipov, has been identified by authorities as the person who carried out the attack. Saipov was wounded during his escape by a New York City police officer.
Police say the suspect screamed “Allahu Akbar,” Arabic for “God is great,” throughout his attack. A note discovered near the vehicle used was found by authorities stating his allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS).
“This was an act of terror. A particularly cowardly act of terror aimed at innocent civilians, aimed at innocent people going about their lives,” said New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Officials say Saipov, a former Uber driver, rented a flatbed pickup from a Passaic, N.J., Home Depot, drove down Houston Street, turned onto the West Street bike path for 17 blocks and careened into pedestrians and bicyclists.
Eight are confirmed dead, including five Argentine and one Belgian tourist. Another 12 are reported injured.
Saipov’s madness ended as he collided with a school bus at Chambers Street. Armed with two realistic-looking guns, both of which were later identified as a pellet gun and a paint-ball gun, Saipov exited the truck and attempted to flee.
The incident ended as Saipov was shot in the abdomen by a police officer and taken to a local hospital where he remains in custody.
Described as a “lone-wolf” attack, state and federal authorities are executing search warrants in New Jersey, Ohio, and Florida, all known residences of Saipov since his arrival to the U.S. in 2010 on an immigrant visa.
Saipov is believed to have been radicalized domestically.
Standing next to Mayor de Blasio, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told reporters he did not believe Saipov’s attack was connected to a wider plot, but NYPD authorities have said that the suspect had been planning the attack “for weeks”.
President Trump denounced the attack on Twitter.
In NYC, looks like another attack by a very sick and deranged person. Law enforcement is following this closely. NOT IN THE U.S.A.!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 31, 2017
During a White House cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Trump called on Congress to end the visa lottery program which prioritizes diversity in determining which immigrants are allowed to enter the U.S., and instead implement a merit-based system.
“Diversity lottery. Sounds nice. It’s not nice. It’s not good. It’s not good. It hasn’t been good, and we’ve been against it,” Trump said.
“We need strength. We need resolve. We have to stop it. We need to get rid of this lottery program as soon as possible. He came in through the diversity program . . . We’re going to as quickly as possible get rid of chain migration and go to a merit-based system.”
[Daily Mail] [New York Post] [NPR] [Reuters] [ABC News] [IBTimes UK/YouTube] [Photo courtesy Brendan McDermid/Reuters via Daily Beast]