Official says NY attacker shouted ‘Allahu akbar’

Authorities stand near a damaged Home Depot truck after a motorist drove onto a bike path near the World Trade Center memorial, striking and killing several people Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

NEW YORK (AP) — A law enforcement official says that witnesses told police that the man who drove a rented truck onto a bike path in New York City, killing eight people, shouted “allahu akbar.”

The official was familiar with the investigation but wasn’t authorized to speak publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Police Commissioner James O’Neill was asked at a news conference whether the suspect shouted the phrase, which means “God is great” in Arabic, or something like it. O’Neill replied: “Yeah. He did make a statement when he exited the vehicle,” though he declined to elaborate.

O’Neill says the method of attack and the suspect’s statement enabled officials “to label this a terrorist event.”

He says the 29-year-old man entered the bike path and drove south, hitting pedestrians and cyclists. He then hit a school bus, injuring at least two adults.

He says the man exited the vehicle brandishing a paintball gun and a pellet gun. He was then shot in the abdomen by a police officer and is now hospitalized.

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