BY SABRINA GARONE
On Oct. 31, a male driver drove a pickup truck into a pedestrian bike path in lower Manhattan, killing at least eight people and seriously injuring 12. The suspect, Sayfullo Saipov, 29, was shot by police immediately after the attack and was taken into custody. He is expected to survive.
“It’s a very painful day in our city,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in a press conference. “Let me be clear, based on the information we have at this moment, this was an act of terror. A particularly cowardly act of terror.”
Of the eight victims whose lives were taken, six were foreign tourists—five from Argentina and one from Belgium.
Saipov told investigators that he was inspired to carry out the attack after watching videos created by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and “decided to use a truck in order to inflict maximum damage against civilians.”
According to authorities, Saipov shouted “Allahu Akbar” during the attack, and left a note in the truck that read “Islamic state would endure forever.”
Christian Colón, Sacred Heart alumnus and graduate student at Columbia University’s Journalism school, was there on the scene working as a reporter and was able to watch the police gather evidence first-hand.
“We were there until midnight with a camera and a notepad, just gathering details and reporting from those who were there during the attacks,” said Colón. “I interviewed a doorman who was working at the time when suddenly he heard gunshots. Then I interviewed this woman who was protesting and yelling at the other reporters, saying ‘fake news and Muslims needed to go.’”
A native of Uzbekistan, Saipov legally came to the United States in 2010 through the Diversity Visa Lottery Program—an immigration program that offers a limited number of visas to people from countries with few immigrants in the U.S.
For some people, these attacks are frightening and far too frequent.
“It’s scary because anyone is a target these days,” said senior Marissa Gallante. “It worries me because my brothers are police officers in the city and their lives are constantly at risk too.”
While addressing his cabinet as well as reporters on Nov. 1, President Trump criticized the immigration policies that allowed Saipov to enter the country and offered solutions to prevent future terror attacks.
“We want to immediately work with Congress on the Diversity Lottery Program on terminating it, getting rid of it,” said Trump in a press conference. “Terrorists are constantly seeking to strike our nation, and it will require the unflinching devotion to our law enforcement, homeland security, and intelligence professionals, to keep America safe. We have to get tougher, we have to get smarter, and much less politically correct. We are so politically correct, we are afraid to do anything.”
President Trump later took to Twitter, calling for Saipov to receive the death penalty as punishment.
The decision on a sentence for Saipov has not yet been determined.
“It’s nerve wrecking to be living in a city that has been targeted before, and to this day continues to be a target for terrorism,” said Colón.