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Witnesses describe New York City terror attack: 'There were people on bikes run over'

by Scott Stump / / Source: TODAY

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A pair of witnesses described seeing people mowed down on a bike path and hearing terrified screams from bystanders and children after a truck driver sped down a bike path in lower Manhattan on Tuesday, killing several people in what officials said was a terrorist attack.

Gene Duffy, a Manhattan chef who was leaving work when the attack occurred, and a man named Anthony, a single dad with a son in a nearby school, spoke with Savannah Guthrie about the attack that killed eight and injured more than a dozen others.

It was the deadliest terror incident in New York City since the Sept. 11 attacks.

Anthony, who did not want to give his last name, was picking up his son from IS 289 Hudson River Middle School when he heard "a big smash."

"I thought it was an accident, and (then) literally he had his hands up in the air, and I saw guns in his hands, waving them and coming towards me," Anthony said.

The suspect was identified by police as 29-year-old Uzbek immigrant Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov.

After deliberately driving a rented Home Depot pickup truck down the bike path and crashing into a school bus, Saipov hopped out and shouted "Allahu Akbar," or "God is great," before firing a BB or pellet gun, four senior law enforcement sources told NBC News.

A police officer on patrol in the area returned fire, hitting Saipov in the abdomen. He is expected to survive, police said.

Watching the scene unfold, Anthony said he was terrified for the children leaving his son's school.

"At that point, I literally just went and started grabbing kids and said, 'Get back in the school! There's a shooter, there's a shooter!''' he said. "I was just pushing kids back in the school, looking for my son, making sure he's not (outside)."

His son was not injured.

Duffy was crossing the street after work when he heard "hysterical screaming" from a female bystander and turned to see what happened. He estimated the truck was traveling about 50 miles per hour.

"I went back and I looked, I seen the white pickup truck in the bike path, and all of a sudden I knew something was wrong,'' Duffy said. "When I got closer to the lady is when I seen that there were people on bikes that were run over ... they passed away."

He considered himself lucky after realizing how far the assailant drove on the path, which police estimated was about a mile.

"I don't know if he missed me or I missed him, but somebody was looking out for me because that could've easily been me,'' he said.

Follow TODAY.com writer Scott Stump on Twitter.

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