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Last Updated Oct 31, 2017 7:17 PM EDT

NEW YORK — Eight people were killed and nearly a dozen injured Tuesday when a driver plowed his rental truck into pedestrians on a bicycle path in Lower Manhattan. Law enforcement officials are investigating the incident as an act of terror and the suspect is in police custody.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said 11 others injured in what he called a “cowardly act of terror aimed at innocent civilians.” The suspect, a 29-year-old male, was shot by a police officer and he was transported to the hospital, officials said. Law enforcement sources told CBS News the suspect yelled “Allahu Akbar,” or “God is great” in Arabic, before exiting the vehicle.

Witnesses described the horror and confusion at the scene, just blocks away from the World Trade Center.

CBS News correspondent DeMarco Morgan spoke to college student Ruben Cabrera who said he thought the incident was a prank. “When I first heard the gunshots go off, I saw kids running in the opposite direction and laughing, so initially I thought it was a prank.”

Considering the location of the incident, Cabrera said he thought, “that can’t possibly be a shooting.”

“I walk over and I see EMS and police officers running over, and I’m like, ‘this really just happened,'” Cabrera said. “In the bike lane, I saw two bodies covered with white sheets, and I saw bikes next to them and the bikes looked like they were run over by a vehicle. I looked and saw EMS trying to assist him.”

Cabrera said he was standing outside the Borough of Manhattan Community College when he decided to shoot video of the incident. He said there were more people in the area than usual because school had just let out.

High school students in the area told CBS News’ Morgan they heard gunshots and immediately took off running for safety when they saw what happen. They said they heard gunshots but weren’t sure if they were from police subduing the suspect.

Morgan reports there were also many children in their costumes trick or treating for Halloween in the area.

Witness Greg Ahl told CBS New York that the scene looked like the “vehicle drove down the bicycle path and ran everything over.”

Another witness, Tawhid Kabir, told Morgan that he noticed the Home Depot truck had crashed and ran to see what he thought was an accident. He said he then noticed the suspect, who was carrying what appeared to be two guns, running in the middle of the street. He said he heard gunshots and saw that the suspect was down.

The witness said he and several other students just stood watching in fear. “I was so scared when I heard the gunshots,” he said. 

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