The FBI Is Investigating The NYC Attack As Potential Terrorism

by Sarah Beauchamp
Andy Kiss/Getty Images News/Getty Images

On Tuesday afternoon, a man drove a truck down a busy bike lane along the Westside Highway in New York City, killing at least six people and injuring several others. The New York attack is being investigated as a terrorist attack, law enforcement sources told CBS News. According to CNN, the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force will take the lead in the investigation.

According to witnesses and police officers, the motorist ran over several pedestrians on the bike path near the World Trade Center memorial. The truck's driver then proceeded to get out of the car screaming and shooting what appeared to be a gun, CBS reported. During a press conference held two hours after the attack, Police Commissioner James O'Neill confirmed the man was brandishing two guns (these were later said to be imitation firearms). He said they currently have a 29-year-old in custody.

"Based on information we have at this moment, this was an act of terror, and a particularly cowardly act of terror aimed at innocent civilians," New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said of the attack. O'Neill added that "if you look at the M.O. [modus operandi] of the attack it's consistent with what's been going on," referring to other terrorist attacks in the country. That, combined with the fact that the driver reportedly yelled an Arabic phrase at the scene, "made us label this a terrorist attack," O'Neill said.

Around 3 p.m. on Tuesday, a man driving a rented Home Depot truck struck several people along the bike path, and then ran into a school bus, O'Neill explained. Once the man got out of the car and started running and screaming, the New York City Police Department said they began to shoot at him.

One person at the scene of the attack told CNN:

It happened out of nowhere. I was walking down the street. It was a normal day then just out of nowhere I see people running and screaming and just multiple gunshots, one right after other. It was just completely unexpected.

There is also video footage of people lying on the ground next to badly damaged bicycles.

While there is no legal definition of terrorism, de Blasio was hesitant to call the planting of a bomb in a New York City dumpster last September an act of terror, yet is referring to this incident as one. Some suspected at the time he didn't want to cause a panic. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said at the time that there was "no evidence of an international terrorism connection," therefore they were calling it "an intentional act."

"It depends on your definition of terrorism," Cuomo told USA Today. "A bomb exploding in New York is obviously an act of terrorism, but it's not linked to international terrorism. In other words, we find no [Islamic State] connections."

On Tuesday, Cuomo explained the "new terrorist tactic" includes "these lone wolves who commit an act of terror." He added that at this time, there's no evidence this attack was a part of a "wider plot." He also went on to recognize that New York City has faced a lot of horrific attacks before, from the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, to earlier this year, when a man drove a car through the crowds at Times Square, killing one person and injuring at least 22 others.

"We felt the pain before, we feel the pain today," Cuomo said at the press conference. "But we're not gonna let them win, and if we change our lives and we contort ourselves to them, then they win and we lose."