Suspect In Deadly Manhattan Terror Attack Has Florida Ties

Follow CBSMIAMI.COM: Facebook | Twitter

MANHATTAN (CBSMiami/AP) – The man suspected of slamming into pedestrians in Manhattan, killing at least 8 people, has ties to Florida.

CBS News confirms the accused driver is 29-year-old Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov.

Saipov lived in Tampa, Florida, and New Jersey. He came to the U.S. in 2010 from Uzbekistan.

It’s not clear when he left to go to the New York area. He may have been there for a while.

Reporters have knocked on many doors at his Tampa apartment complex and no one seems to know him.

The FBI has already reportedly been here questioning residents.

Officer said the driver of the rented truck went through several blocks.

“It’s a very painful day in our city… based on the information, this was an act of terror,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio who called it “a particularly cowardly act of terror.”

The driver was shot in the abdomen by police after jumping out of the truck with what turned out to be a fake gun in each hand and shouting what witnesses said was “Allahu Akbar,” Arabic for “God is great,” authorities said. The man underwent surgery and was in critical condition but was expected to survive.

CBS News confirms from a federal law enforcement source that a note that referenced the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria was found in or near the truck used in the attack.

Federal intelligence agencies will be combing through databases looking into Saipov, CBS News’ justice and homeland security correspondent Jeff Pegues reports, including where he’s traveled and who he’s been in contact with.

Authorities will also look into Saipov’s electronic devices to look for any clues that would shed light in the days and hours before the attack unfolded in lower Manhattan.

“On its face, this of course has the hallmarks of a type of attack ISIS and al Qaeda have called and that cities all across the globe have tried to guard against,” Pegues says. “What will likely help police in this investigation is that the suspect survived … but that is if the suspect cooperates.”

Witnesses described a scene of panic and blood, with people screaming in fear and the path strewn with mangled bicycles and bodies that was soon covered with sheets.

Five citizens of Argentina and one person from Belgium are among the eight killed. None of the victims have been identified.

In addition to those killed, 11 people were seriously injured, police said.

In a tribute to the victims, the spire of One World Trade Center, just blocks from the attack scene, lit up in red, white and blue.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called it a “lone wolf” attack and said there was no evidence to suggest it was part of a wider plot.

Cities around the globe have been on alert against attacks by extremists in vehicles. The Islamic State has been encouraging its followers to mow down people, and England, France and Germany have all seen deadly vehicle attacks in recent months and years.

Police said the vehicle, a rented Home Depot truck, entered the bike path on West Street a few blocks from the new World Trade Center — the site of the deadliest terror attack in U.S. history — and mowed down several people. The truck also slammed into a small yellow school bus, injuring two adults and two children.

A paintball gun and a pellet gun were found at the scene, police said.

“This was an act of terror, and a particularly cowardly act of terror aimed at innocent civilians,” de Blasio said.

At least two bodies could be seen lying on the path beneath tarps, and the front end of the pickup was smashed in.

President Donald Trump, who the White House said was briefed on the terror attack, responded to the news in a series of tweets.

The White House followed with a more formal statement saying the Trump administration will “provide its full support to the New York City Police Department, including through a joint investigation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”

Former CIA operative Robert Baer told CNN he thinks Saipov will give up what he knows.

“These guys over time are breakable. He’ll start giving up contacts, spiritual leaders, people that agree with him on various things whether it’s Tampa or New Jersey. This will lead to arrests. We will break down, if there’s a cell, it will be broken down over time,” he said.

If he has any associates in Tampa or elsewhere, Baer says tracking them down may be especially hard if they’re also from Uzbekistan.

“The Uzbek community in this country and in Uzbekistan, especially the fundamentalists, are one of the most insular communities in the world. They’re very hostile to the west. I used to work there. It’s a nightmare for intelligence services, it’s going to be a nightmare for the FBI to get to the bottom of this Uzbek community,” he said.

Tom Gay, a school photographer, was on Warren Street and heard people saying there was an accident. He went down to West Street and a woman came around the corner shouting, “He has a gun! He has a gun!”

Gay said he stuck his head around the corner and saw a slender man in a blue track suit running southbound on West Street holding a gun. He said there was a heavyset man pursuing him.

He said he heard five or six shots and the man in the tracksuit fell to the ground, gun still raised in the air. He said a man came over and kicked the gun out of his hand.

The attack closed roads across the western edge of Manhattan along the Hudson River and sent uniformed officers rushing to the neighborhood as people prepared for Halloween festivities, including an annual parade through Greenwich Village.

Eugene Duffy, 43, a chef at a waterfront restaurant, said he was crossing West Street when he heard something, turned back and saw the white pickup on the bike path.

After seeing the mangled bikes, he ran south, seeing the school bus that appeared to have been T-boned, and officers at the scene, guns drawn, ducked behind patrol cars.

“So many police came and they didn’t know what was happening,” Duffy said. “People were screaming. Females were screaming at the top of their lungs.”

Uber driver Chen Yi said he saw a truck plow 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.

Video footage of the school bus showed its right side bashed in, and firefighters surrounding it as they worked to free children inside.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More From CBS Miami

Get Your Daily DoseHere's some good news just for you.
CBS4 New Home For Florida Lottery
Pro Football Challenge

Watch & Listen LIVE