New York truck attack declared act of terror, CBU students safe

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A 29-year-old male in a Home Depot truck drove down a pedestrian and bike lane Oct. 31 in what New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio called an act of terror on the west side of Manhattan, leaving at least eight dead and around a dozen seriously injured.

Three California Baptist University students — junior journalism & new media majors Lauren Shelburne, Hannah Preston and Raegan Melfe — who are studying at the New York Journalism Center at King’s College, reported themselves safe.

After driving through the bike path, the attacker, who is in custody, crashed into a school bus before exiting the vehicle waving a paintball gun and pellet gun in hand, allegedly saying “Allahu akbar” before being shot by a New York Police Department officer.

Kristen Templeton, Preston’s roommate at King’s College, was two blocks away from the scene in their apartment and watched the incident unfold from their apartment window facing the highway.

“I heard a couple sirens, and that’s not unusual since we live by the highway so we hear that a lot,” Templeton said. “But more and more sirens kept coming by and it was to the point where I wondered, ‘OK. What’s happening?’ I was the only one home and I got up and walked to the window and looked over and there were so many (emergency responders). That was the view from our apartment window — just mass chaos.

“It made me feel so sick. My stomach dropped after I found out what was happening. This was happening in my backyard and I had no idea the severity of what was going on. It was absolutely heart-wrenching.”

Although she was not in her apartment, Preston was a few blocks away in a classroom. She said being so close to the attack was a terrifying experience, but also said she will not let fear win.

“It’s extremely scary. Even though events like these happen way too often, you never think it’s going to happen to you,” Preston said. “My roommates walk on the street all the time where these events occurred. It could’ve easily been us.” 

“I’m so happy we are all safe, but it is absolutely horrible that innocent lives were lost. I’m going to remain vigilant and definitely not going to let this terror attack make me scared. That would mean their mission was accomplished and i’m not going to give them that satisfaction.”

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