Witnesses to New York truck attack describe ‘chaotic,’ ‘tragic’ scene

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Witnesses describe what they saw Tuesday afternoon after police say a truck barrelled down a Manhattan bike path, killing at least 8 people and injuring at least a dozen – Oct 31, 2017

Editor’s note: This story contains information that may be disturbing to some people.

The harrowing scene of a truck attack in New York City Tuesday was chaotic and frantic, according to those who were there.

READ MORE: 8 dead after truck hits cyclists in New York City ‘act of terror’

Eight people were killed, 11 others were seriously injured, and others had minor injuries when 29-year-old Sayfullo Saipov drove down a bike lane in lower Manhattan, NYC officials said.

The scene started at 3:05 p.m. when a Home Depot rental truck entered the lane and plowed through cyclists and other vehicles, including a school bus.

Andrew Howell told ABC News that he saw it unfold about 20 feet in front of him.

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He said he saw the truck hit one cyclist which sent him flying; the man was motionless when he landed.

“It was a peaceful day, the sun was shining, and then a tragic event like this happens,” Howell told ABC. “It shatters your sense of peace.”

Witness Eugene Duffy said when he heard screaming, he first thought that it might’ve been a Halloween trick, but that the screaming sounded too real.

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

When he went to investigate, he saw the bodies, some with “tire marks,” and others were mangled, he said.

READ MORE: New York City truck attack: What we know about suspect Sayfullo Saipov

Amir Chaghlil told the Sydney Morning Herald that he saw four or five bodies.

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“They were on the bike path itself. Their bikes were near them, still on the path,” Chaghlil said.

“It was shocking. By the time I ran out, I saw the police putting cloths over the dead bodies.”

“I saw a lot of blood over there. A lot of people on the ground,” said Chen Yi, an Uber driver.

The truck then hit a school bus containing four passengers, two of them children.

A damaged school bus is seen at the scene of a truck attack in Manhattan, New York, on Oct. 31, 2017, in this picture obtained from social media. Sebastian Sobczak via REUTERS

When the truck came to a halt, the driver emerged waving two imitation guns (a pellet gun and a paintball gun) and he reportedly yelled “Allahu Ahkbar.”

“We saw the guy,” Josie Lis told Reuters. “He looked like he had on dark colours and he had a beard. But he was holding two guns. So it was a little scary.

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Another witness said the gunman was “screaming in the street,” and that he looked “frustrated, panicked and confused.”

The gunman was shot in the abdomen by NYPD officer Ryan Nash.

“We thought the guns were fake and it was a Halloween prank,” 14-year-old Laith Bahlouli said, according to the Independent.

Both the FBI and local police are investigating the incident, and say it is a terrorism investigation.

In a press conference, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said New Yorkers should be vigilant but should continue to go about their lives.

*With files from the Associated Press

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