Sayfullo Saipov, the man accused of the New York terror attack on Tuesday, is an Uber driver who lives in New Jersey after emigrating from Uzbekistan seven years ago.
Eight people were killed and 11 injured when a pickup driver mowed down cyclists and pedestrians near the World Trade Center, before striking a school bus.
The driver was shot in the abdomen by police after jumping out of the truck with what turned out to be a fake gun in each hand and shouting what witnesses said was “Allahu Akbar!,” Arabic for “God is great,” authorities said.
He underwent surgery and was expected to survive.
Officials speaking to AP on condition of anonymity identified the suspect as Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov and said he moved from Uzbekistan in 2010.
Note ‘claimed attack was for Isil’
NBC News quoted law enforcement sources as saying the attacker left a note in the truck claiming he committed the attack on behalf of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
He has a Florida driver’s license but was reportedly living in Paterson, New Jersey, with family, sources told local media.
Residents in the area said that Saipov had a wife and two young children.
Saipov was “very friendly” and was an Uber driver, a friend of the suspect was quoted as saying by the New York Post.
“He is very good guy, he is very friendly… he is like little brother… he look at me like big brother,” Matkarov was quoted as saying by phone from his home in Miamisburg, Ohio.
“My kids like him too, he is always playing with them. He is playing all the time,” Matkarov reportedly said.
Suspect was an Uber driver
Uber confirmed that Saipov was one of its drivers, saying he had passed a background check. Saipov has now been banned from the Uber app.
The company said it had reached out to law enforcement to provide its full assistance and was “aggressively and quickly reviewing” the suspect’s history with Uber.
The driver barrelled along the bike path in a rented Home Depot truck for the equivalent of about 14 blocks, or around eight-tenths of a mile, before slamming into a small yellow school bus.
Records show Saipov was a commercial truck driver who formed a pair of businesses in Ohio after moving to the U.S, AP reports.
The first business, Sayf Motors Inc., used the address of a family friend near Cincinnati with whom Saipov had stayed for a couple of weeks after his arrival in the country. The second, Bright Auto LLC, used an address near Cleveland.
Saipov lived in Muslim area
A trucking industry website listed Saipov at a Paterson, New Jersey, address that authorities were searching on Tuesday night. Court records related to trucking-related infractions list Saipov with addresses in Paterson and the Cleveland suburbs.
Paterson is a one-time industrial hub known for its large immigrant population. About 25,000 to 30,000 Muslims live in the city, giving it one of the highest concentrations of Muslim people in the New York City area.
The family friend with whom Saipov stayed in Ohio, Dilnoza Abdusamatova, told The Cincinnati Enquirer Saipov was “really calm” and worked hard.
“He always used to work. He wouldn’t go to parties or anything. He only used to come home and rest and leave and go back to work.”
History of traffic violations
Saipov has a history of traffic violations, according to media reports and court records.
In one incident, he was pulled over in central Pennsylvania for pulling a truck trailer that was longer than permitted by law and “operating unsafe equipment”, as well as driving with the wrong operators license, state judicial records show.
Donald Trump branded the attacker as a “very sick and deranged person.”
“We must not allow ISIS to return, or enter, our country after defeating them in the Middle East and elsewhere. Enough!” he said.