The 29-year-old driver was shot by police in the abdomen and taken into custody after he crashed the truck into a school bus and fled his vehicle, New York City Police Commissioner James O‘Neill told a news conference.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security called the incident an “apparent act of terrorism.”
Asked at the news conference about reports that the driver shouted “Allahu Akbar” - which is Arabic for “God is greatest” - O‘Neill said that a statement made by the suspect when he exited his truck and the general circumstances of the assault led investigators to label the incident a “terrorist event.”
O‘Neill said police would not identify the driver at this time.
The attack was reminiscent of several similar attacks carried out in Europe last year.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said the suspect appeared to have acted alone.
“There’s no evidence to suggest a wider plot or a wider scheme. These are the actions of one individual meant to cause pain and harm and probably death,” Cuomo said at the news conference.
Mayor Bill de Blasio called the attack a “cowardly act of terrorism.”
The driver entered the bike path in lower Manhattan at 3:05 p.m., O‘Neill said, adding that he was armed with a paintball gun and a pellet gun.
Two children and two adults were injured when the truck ploughed into the school bus, he said.
O‘Neill said the suspect was driving a rented Home Depot truck but said police would not disclose at this time where the truck was rented.
After the attack, mangled and flattened bicycles littered the bike path, which runs parallel to the West Side Highway on the western edge of Manhattan along the Hudson River.
Of the eight people killed, six were pronounced dead at the scene and two more were pronounced dead at a nearby hospital, O‘Neill said.
Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said 11 survivors with serious but non-life-threatening injuries were taken to hospitals.
U.S. President Donald Trump was briefed on the incident, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.