NYC truck attack declared terrorism, CBU students safe

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A 29-year-old male in a Home Depot truck mowed down bicyclists and pedestrians Oct. 31 in a calculated attack that New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio called an act of terror in Lower Manhattan. The incident left eight dead and 12 seriously injured, four of whom remain in critical condition.

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 suspect, who is in custody and speaking with federal investigators, crashed into a school bus before exiting the vehicle with a paintball gun and pellet gun in hand, allegedly saying “Allahu akbar” before being shot by a New York Police Department officer. He is charged with providing material support to ISIS and destruction of motor vehicles.

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 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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