NEW YORK — Sayfullo Saipov, the 29-year-old Uzbekistan immigrant suspected of killing eight people and injuring at least 11 others in a terror attack after he allegedly drove a rented Home Depot pickup truck down a bike path next to the Hudson River in Lower Manhattan on Tuesday afternoon pledged loyalty to the Islamic State, law enforcement officials said.
Investigators told Fox News that Saipov, who shouted "Allahu Akbar" ("allah is great") after crashing into his victims, pledged loyalty to the terror network in handwritten notes in Arabic found near the vehicle. Officials also told the New York Post that a picture of the ISIS flag was found in the vehicle.
At a press conference Tuesday about two hours after the attack which occurred not far from the new World Trade Center building and the site of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called the attack "cowardly" and said New Yorkers would not be intimidated.
"It's a very painful day in our city. Horrible tragedy on the West Side. Let me be clear that 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," de Blasio said.
New York City Police Commissioner James O'Neill explained that at 3:05 p.m. Saipov allegedly entered the West Side Highway bicycle path at Houston Street and began driving south bound, striking a number of pedestrians and bicyclists along the route.
At Chambers Street the truck collided with a school bus injuring two adults and two children. After the collision, Saipov exited the truck brandishing two handguns. A uniformed NYPD officer identified as Ryan Nash, 28, confronted him and shot him in the abdomen. He was transported to the hospital and a paintball gun and a pellet gun were recovered from the scene.
FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said six of the eight people who died, all males, were pronounced dead at the scene.
According to The New York Times, five of the dead were Argentine tourists who had traveled to New York for a 30-year high school reunion celebration. They were identified as Hernán Mendoza, Diego Angelini, Alejandro Pagnucco, Ariel Erlij and Hernán Ferruchi. Martín Ludovico Marro, a sixth member of the group, was wounded. Belgian officials also confirmed that one of the dead and three of the injured were from Belgium.
"We know this action was intended to break our spirit. But we also know New Yorkers are strong, New Yorkers are resilient. ... We have been tested before as a city, very near the site of today's tragedy and New Yorkers did not give in in the face of these kinds of actions. We'll respond as we always do. We will be undeterred," de Blasio said Tuesday prior to the start of the city's Halloween parade.
While urging prayers for the victims and their families, both de Blasio and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo urged New Yorkers to not be distracted by the attack.
"We know we'll get to the bottom of what happened. I want to ask all New Yorkers, all Americans to keep the families of those we lost in your prayers. They will need our support," de Blasio said.
"The truth is New York is an international symbol of freedom and democracy. That's what we are and we are proud of it. That also makes us a target for those people who oppose those concepts. And we've lived with this before, we felt the pain before, we feel the pain today, but we go forward together and we go forward stronger than ever. We're not going to let them win," Cuomo said.
The New York governor further noted that Tuesday's attack was an isolated one.
"We have the finest security on the globe. The new terrorist tactic which they have called for publicly are these lone wolves who commit an act of terror. This is all very preliminary, it's only been couple of hours but at this point there is no evidence to suggest a wider plot," he said.