The Manhattan terrorist was armed with a paintball gun and shouted ‘Allahu akbar’, it has emerged.
Eight people were killed and 11 others injured after the 29-year-old male suspect, named as Sayfullo Saipov, mowed down pedestrians and cyclists on a bike path near the World Trade Center on Tuesday afternoon.
Two children riding a school bus are among those hurt. All have suffered serious but non-life threatening injuries.
The New York Police Department (NYPD) said the van was rented from Home Depot. It struck people on a bike path a few blocks north of Chambers Street.
It continued south, striking another vehicle before the suspect got out and brandished what police initially thought were two handguns. They later turned out to be a paintball gun and a pellet gun.
He was shot in the stomach by police and taken into custody.
Witness Greg Ahl told CBS: ‘A vehicle drove straight down a bicycle path heading south in Manhattan just mowing everything down.
‘It looks like a vehicle drove down the bicycle path and ran everything over.’
A man who was riding in an Uber along the West Side Highway near Chambers street said he saw several people bleeding.
NYC mayor Bill de Blasio said ‘it’s a very painful day’ and labeled the attack a ‘particularly cowardly act of terror’.
He explained: ‘This was an act of terror and a particular cowardly act of terror, aimed at innocent civilians who had no idea what was about to hit them.
‘We know of eight innocent people who have lost their lives and over a dozen more injured.
‘We know this action was intended to break our spirit… our spirit will never be moved by an act of violence. We have been tested before very near the site of today’s tragedy and New Yorkers do not give in in the face of thee types of actions.’
Donald Trump has also spoken out about the attack.
He wrote on Twitter: ‘In NYC, looks like another attack by a very sick and deranged person. Law enforcement is following this closely. NOT IN THE USA!’
The NYC Halloween street party near to where the incident took place will still go forward on Tuesday night, said police.