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New York terror suspect once arrested in St. Charles

ST. CHARLES, Mo. _The man suspected of the deadly New York terror attack was arrested in the St. Louis area just last year. Authorities say Sayfullo Saipov was arrested and booked into the St. Charles County Jail after a problem stemming from a big rig he was driving.

Saipov was arrested by the Missouri Highway Patrol on October 21, 2016, after a warrant was issued for him when he failed to appear in court following a traffic citation in December of 2015.

Saipov was driving a big rig in Platte County, Missouri in the northwest part of the state when he was ticketed by troopers for failing to maintain the brake system on the tractor trailer. He failed to show up in court for that ticket in April of last year, that`s when the arrest warrant was issued.

After he was taken into custody, his bond was set at $200 dollars which he posted. A new court date was set for November of last year.

Saipov again failed to appear in court and on November 29 of last year, a guilty plea was entered. Saipov was ordered to pay $129.50 for the bad brakes ticket and $70.50 for court costs. He lost all of his bond money.

Law enforcement sources say he came to the United States in 2010.

Saipov is in police custody and was taken to a hospital for treatment, officials said.

The incident is being investigated as terrorism, officials said. Witnesses reported the suspect was yelling “Allahu Akbar,” according to four law enforcement sources. The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force is taking over the lead of the investigation.

Authorities found a note in the truck Sayfullo Saipov allegedly used in the New York terror attack claiming he did it in the name of ISIS, a senior law enforcement official told CNN. The note was in English, the source said.

“This was an act of terror, and a particularly cowardly act of terror,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “aimed at innocent civilians, aimed at people going about their lives who had no idea what was about to hit them.”

Here are the latest developments in the attack:

• The suspect in the New York attack is from the central Asian nation of Uzbekistan and came to the United States in 2010, two law enforcement sources told CNN. A Tampa, Florida, address is connected to him. Investigators are also looking into a possible connection to New Jersey, the sources said.

• The man rented the truck in New Jersey on Tuesday, a person briefed on the investigation told CNN.

• President Donald Trump tweeted that the incident “looks like another attack by a very sick and deranged person.” In a later tweet, he wrote, “My thoughts, condolences and prayers to the victims and families of the New York City terrorist attack. God and your country are with you!”

• A Belgian national was a victim of the attack, Didier Reynders, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister for Belgium, said on Twitter. “I am deeply saddened to announce a Belgian victim in Manhattan – I express my condolences to the family and friends,” he tweeted from his verified account.

• New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo directed One World Trade Center to be lit in red, white and blue in honor of freedom and democracy, his office said.

Rented truck used

Authorities think it is an act of terror because the driver said something moments after leaving the truck and the method of the attack were consistent with other terrorist attacks, New York Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill said. Vehicles have been used as weapons in a number of terrorist attacks in recent years, including in deadly incidents in Nice, France, and London.

The suspect, driving in a Home Depot rental truck, hopped a curb at West Houston Street and drove south on the bike path on the west side of West Side Highway in Lower Manhattan for several blocks, officials said. A pellet gun and a paintball gun were recovered from the scene, officials said.

Just after the incident, news footage showed several mangled bicycles on the popular bike path as medics tended to the wounded in the background.

Six people were declared dead at the scene and two were pronounced dead at the hospital. At lease 11 others were transported to the hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries, according to New York Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro.

No other suspects are being sought, the NYPD said.

A spokesman for Home Depot confirmed one of the company’s rental trucks was part of an incident in lower Manhattan and said the company is “cooperating with authorities” in the investigation.

Witness accounts

News footage showed crowds of spectators — some capturing the scene with cellphone cameras — gathered behind police lines. A white Home Depot truck with the front end smashed was also visible.

Eugene Duffy said he had just left work at Pier 26 and was waiting on the light to cross West Street when he heard a scream. He thought it might have been a Halloween prank but he said the scream was bloodcurdling.

“I look down and I see a white pickup truck a couple of more blocks down in the bike path,” he said. “Automatically, I know something’s wrong. Then, as I go down more toward where the girl is screaming, I see two gentlemen laying there and they have tire tracks marked across their bodies. You could tell they both weren’t here.”

He continued to walk closer to the scene. Gunshots rang out. He saw cops ducking for cover. A yellow school bus was smashed nearby. Cops descended on the area.

“I thought automatically, this area, I thought it was terrorism,” he said.

Michael Corbin, the assistant real estate manager for District Council 37, the city’s largest public employees union, was standing outside the union’s lower Manhattan offices attending to a woman who slipped and fell on the sidewalk.

“The first responder to the event was a counterterrorism officer,” he said. “We were attending to the victim, getting her onto a stretcher and, at that moment, we heard gunshots. I recalled hearing five gunshots in quick succession and immediately the officer … left to investigate the situation from the direction we heard the noise coming from.”

Another witness, Ramon Cruz, described what he saw.

“What I saw was that the driver — he didn’t look like he was bleeding,” said Cruz. “He was dragging his foot. He looks frustrated, panicked, confused. People are running past me, saying, ‘He’s got a gun. He’s got a gun.’ I didn’t see any gun.

“It was a white pickup truck. He looked pretty bad without bleeding or anything like that. I didn’t see him hit anybody. All I heard was the impact of a crash.”

Tuesday afternoon on Twitter, a user posted an image of a person lying on the ground near the scene of an incident near West & Chambers Streets in Manhattan.

Uzbekistan ties

Authorities are sure to look at whether the suspect visited Uzbekistan since he moved to the United States seven years ago, CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank said.

“There has been a significant problem with jihadism in Uzbekistan,” he said.

According to Cruickshank there are two large jihadi groups in the country. One of them is the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which is affiliated with ISIS.

In April, an Uzbek man was arrested after a truck attack killed four people in Stockholm.

By Eric Levenson, Brynn Gingras and Ray Sanchez, CNN