NEW YORK, Oct. 31 (Xinhua) -- Eight people were killed and a dozen more injured after a truck plowed into pedestrians near the World Trade Center in New York City, the mayor said on Tuesday.
Based on the information authorities had at the moment, the incident was "a particularly cowardly act of terror aimed at innocent civilians," Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a press conference.
Speaking at the conference alongside with the mayor, New York City Police Commissioner James O' Neil said the suspect was a 29-year-old man who was not from New York.
At 3:05 p.m., a male driving a rented Home Depot pickup truck entered the West Side Highway bicycle path at Houston Street, according to O' Neil. He said the man began driving southbound, 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, according to the police.
After the collision, the driver exited the vehicle, holding up a paintball gun and a pellet gun. He was shot in the stomach by a police officer but survived and arrested. He was then sent to a hospital.
Reports said that the driver shouted "Allahu Akbar," which means "God is great" in Arabic.
O'Neil was asked to confirm whether the driver made such statement at the press conference. He said that the driver "did make a statement when he exited the vehicle" although he declined to elaborate on it.
Local media reported that law enforcement officials who spoke on condition of anonymity identified the driver as Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov.
He has a Florida driver's license and may have lived in the city of Tampa. He rented the vehicle in New Jersey, said media.
Reports said the man might come to the United States in 2010 from Uzbekistan.
Local media said that Saipov left a note in the truck claiming he committed the attack on behalf of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
The police declined to confirm the above information and gave no further details on his background as the investigation is underway to find out his motive for the attack.
Video footage shot by an office clerk working in the 52-story 7 World Trade Center building showed that all main streets around the usually bustling financial district had been vacated, with only police vehicles spotted moving or parking in the area.
The female clerk, who asked to be identified only by her surname Jiang, told Xinhua that she and her colleagues were advised by police to stay in the building until further notice.
An eyewitness named John Williams said "When I was walking down the street towards the incident, I saw a group of women and children were running towards me, one of them was saying 'he has a gun, he has a gun.' I turned around and heard the gunshot about 30 seconds later."
"There was a white pickup truck with Home Depot logos. The front of the truck was completely smashed in and there was smoke," he added.
The attack occurred hours before an annual Halloween parade was to take place in lower Manhattan, which would be packed with thousands of people in costumes and masks.
Authorities said more police officers and resources were invested in iconic places in the city as a precaution, particularly along the route of the Halloween Parade.
Also at the press conference, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, who just hours ago wished New Yorkers a safe and happy Halloween, called the incident a "lone wolf" attack.
The governor said there was no evidence to suggest it was part of a wider plot.
U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted that, "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.!"
According to preliminary information gathered by the Consulate General of China in New York, there were no reports of Chinese nationals killed or injured in the terror attack.
The incident is the deadliest terror attack that has hit the U.S. city with a population of over 8.5 million since the infamous 9/11 attacks in 2001.
On May 18 this year, one person was killed and 22 others were injured when a car plowed into pedestrians in Times Square, New York City. Though the incident highly resembled the one happening on Tuesday, authorities said there was no indication that it was an act of terrorism.