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New York police provide rapid response to terror attack

In this photo provided by the New York City Police Department, officers respond to a report of gunfire along West Street near the pedestrian bridge at Stuyvesant High School in lower Manhattan in New York, Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017. (Martin Speechley/NYPD via AP)

A man driving a rented Home Depot van veered into a busy bicycle path near the World Trade Center memorial Tuesday, mowing down several people and colliding with other vehicles before exiting the truck screaming and holding what appeared to be two guns, police and witnesses said.

The violent incident left at least eight dead and even more injured, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a press briefing.

Anthony Roman, president of global investigation and risk management firm Roman & Associates, said the death toll could have been much higher if police had not quickly arrived on scene and terminated the attack.

“If you look at the method and manner in which the NYPD responded, that is an example of critical training being provided, and specifically scenario-based training,” he said.

Rapid response and mitigation of casualties is sometimes the best officials can hope for in the wake of an attack like this, because protecting every sidewalk and bike path in a major city is not cost-effective or realistic.

“There are ways to harden them,” Roman said. “The question is whether its practical on a wholesale basis. You can’t protect every soft target in the manner in which you want to.”

According to the NYPD, the suspect was carrying “imitation firearms” rather than real guns, a detail that Roman said raises questions about his intentions and whether he planned to survive the encounter.

“Are we dealing with an emotionally disturbed person or are we dealing with an untrained, unaffiliated attacker who has developed an extremist ideology?” he asked.

The fact that the suspect is still alive and in custody will be an “enormous” help in answering that question.

“What is going to be done is an in-depth investigation into the individual’s motives,” Roman said, including a review of electronic devices, interviews with family and associates, and forensic examination of his home.

“The NYPD detectives are quite adept at interrogation and interviews,” he added.

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