The man accused of killing eight people when he allegedly drove a Home Depot truck through a busy New York bike path on Halloween appeared in federal court Wednesday in a wheelchair with his hands and feet shackled.
Federal prosecutors said Sayfullo Saipov was "consumed by hate and a twisted ideology" when he mowed down bicyclists and pedestrians outside enjoying an unseasonably warm and sunny day.
He was charged in New York federal court with providing material support to ISIS and violence and destruction of motor vehicles. His lawyers said they would not seek bail and Saipov did not enter a plea. His next court date is scheduled for November 15.
Saipov, 29, an Uber driver who allegedly drove a rented truck onto the heavily trafficked bike path and crashed into a school bus just blocks away from the World Trade Center. He then stepped out of the vehicle with a paintball and pellet gun shouting, “Allahu Akbar,” before he was shot in the abdomen by an NYPD officer and taken into custody.
Saipov reportedly immigrated to Ohio from Uzbekistan, a Muslim-majority country, in 2010 knowing little English, The New York Times reported. He owned a pair of auto businesses in Ohio, according to reports.
In 2015, the 29-year-old, who had obtained a green card, moved to Fort Myers, Fla., where he met a fellow Uzbek immigrant, Kobiljon Matkarov, 37, the paper reported.
Matkarov described Saipov as a “very good person.” Saipov is reportedly married to a Uzbekistan native and has two children.
"He liked the US. He seemed very lucky, and all the time, he was happy and talking like everything is okay,” Matkarov said. He did not seem like a terrorist, but I did not know him from the inside."
Six people died at the scene and two more were pronounced dead at the hospital. Police said 11 more people were injured in what authorities have labeled a terror attack. Saipov was in critical condition, reports said.
Saipov reportedly bragged to police about the attack from his hospital bed, CBS reported.
President Trump tweeted Wednesday that the "terrorist came into our country through what is called the 'Diversity Visa Lottery Program." The program was started to increase immigration to the U.S. from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.
Trump also announced that Saipov was allegedly instrumental in bringing 23 other Uzbeks to the United States.
"I am today starting the process of terminating the diversity lottery program," Trump said Tuesday morning. "I am going to ask Congress to immediately initiate work to get rid of this program."
Saipov moved to Paterson, N.J., last January and began driving for Uber. The ride-booking company said that he had been working there for more than six months and had passed the company’s background check.
“We are aggressively and quickly reviewing this partner’s history with Uber, and at this time we have not identified any related concerning safety reports,” Uber said in a statement.
Authorities, however, said that Saipov was known by federal authorities in connection with an unrelated investigation, but did not elaborate. The FBI reportedly raided Saipov's New Jersey home last night.
Federal law enforcement agencies, who are leading the investigation into the attack, said they found handwritten notes in Arabic near the crashed truck that indicated Saipov’s allegiance to the Islamic State, according to The New York Times.
Officials said they have yet to find direct ties between Saipov and the extremist group, treating it as an ISIS-“inspired" attack, reports said.
Uzbekistan has reportedly become common origin for Islamic terrorists in recent years. Uzbeks committed terror attacks in Stockholm, Sweden; Istanbul, Turkey and St. Petersburg, Russia, in 2017, USA Today reported.