NEW YORK ― At least eight people were killed and 15 people injured Tuesday afternoon after a man drove a Home Depot rental truck down a bike path in lower Manhattan in New York City, striking several people, authorities said.
According to police, the driver went down the wrong way of a bike path on the West Side Highway, then rammed into another vehicle, reportedly a Stuyvesant High School bus. He then exited the vehicle brandishing what police described as “imitation firearms.” Police then shot him.
“This was an act of terror, and a particularly cowardly act of terror, aimed at innocent civilians,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said during a press conference Tuesday evening.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at the same press conference that while there was “no evidence to suggest a wider plot or a wider scheme,” NYPD planned to increase its presence throughout the city “out of an abundance of caution.”
Authorities confirmed one person is in custody, and said they weren’t looking for other suspects. They urged residents to remain clear of the area of Chambers Street and West Street. Multiple victims were taken to Bellevue Hospital.
The FBI and the New York Police Department are investigating the incident. Contradicting some earlier reports, a law enforcement source told HuffPost the incident is being investigated as terror-related.
Home Depot said it will coordinate with authorities in their investigation but couldn’t provide any additional information.
The use of vehicles as weapons in terror attacks is a frequent tactic for extremists, who have used it to kill over 100 people in Europe in recent years. The self-described Islamic State has long advocated for its supporters to carry out such attacks, and has featured them heavily in its propaganda.
In response to such attacks, governments have considered a wide range of defensive measures, including installing protective netting that can trap tires, and putting stricter regulations on vehicle rentals. Cities have also added barriers such as concrete blocks and security bollards to protect heavily populated areas from trucks and cars.
New York City for years has been aware of the possibility of vehicle attacks, and redesigned its Times Square to add more bollards based on recommendations in 2012 from a counterterrorism official. But, as attacks in Europe have shown, it is impossible to secure every soft target and area of a city.
Right now, west and Chambers streets pic.twitter.com/1skVrKIC0y— Paul Moses (@PaulBMoses) October 31, 2017
John Williams, a 22-year-old Brooklyn College student, said he arrived on the scene near Stuyvesant High School just after the crash had taken place. He told HuffPost he heard at least five “very fast” gunshots.
“I heard people yelling, ‘He’s got a gun! He’s got a gun!’” said Williams.
Williams said he saw a man being arrested and another man, who “looked like he had been shot,” laying on the ground nearby. He described the crashed vehicle as a white pick-up truck with a Home Depot logo.
“The front was mashed in,” Williams said. “And there was smoke coming out of it.”
Witness to downtown crash and shooting describes scene, heard more than 5 gunshots. pic.twitter.com/GljSlvGzFn— Sebastian Murdock (@SebastianMurdoc) October 31, 2017
Ezequial Gonzalez, 18, was walking near Stuyvesant High School, where he works as a speech coach, when he heard what he thought were “just car gaskets.”
“Now they’re saying those were gunshots,” Gonzalez said. “There were police just barreling down [the street].”
Gonzalez said he tried to get into the high school, but the building was locked down. He said he could see the crashed vehicle “caved in the front” and “debris everywhere.”
“There was something on the street that looked like ― they said it was a body covered with a sheet,” he said. “Everyone was very confused.”
Gene Duffy, 43, said he saw a white pickup truck “flying down the bike path” as he was walking home from work. He told HuffPost he rushed over to the scene after hearing a woman screaming, and found victims covered in “tire tracks.”
“This one guy’s leg was ― his bones were out and the blood was out,” Duffy told HuffPost. “I looked to see if he was moving or anything, you see all the blood on his face and he was lying in a puddle of blood.”
Witness describes seeing victim hit by vehicle: “His bones were out.” pic.twitter.com/BIfSef3i3V— Sebastian Murdock (@SebastianMurdoc) October 31, 2017
This is a developing story.. Check back for updates..
Nick Robins-Early contributed reporting.
Emergency crews at the the scene of a violent incident on West Street in Manhattan, New York City.
Multiple bikes crushed along a bike path in lower Manhattan.
First responders assist a woman next to the bike path.
First responders tend to a victim.
A police officer at the scene.
Emergency personnel and vehicles in lower Manhattan.
Police gather at the scene after reports of multiple people injured after a truck plowed through a bike path in New York City.
The truck drove down a popular biking path in lower Manhattan.
Police investigate the truck.
- This article originally appeared on HuffPost.