By Deepti Hajela and Michael R. Sisak
A man driving a U-Haul truck swerved onto sidewalks and plowed into scooter riders in New York City on Monday, injuring multiple people before police were able to pin the careening vehicle against a building following a mileslong pursuit.
At least eight people were hurt, two critically. Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell described the driver’s actions as a “violent rampage through Brooklyn” but said there was no evidence of “terrorism involvement.”
The truck sped through the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn before police stopped it more than 3 miles (5 kilometers) away near the entrance to a tunnel leading from Brooklyn to Manhattan, authorities said.
The driver was arrested. Police didn't immediately release his name, but his son identified him as Weng Sor, and told The Associated Press he had a history of mental illness.
“Very frequently he’ll choose to skip out on his medications and do something like this," said Stephen Sor, 30, in an interview outside his Brooklyn home. "This isn’t the first time he’s been arrested. It’s not the first time he’s gone to jail.”
Court records show Weng Sor was sentenced to one to three years in a Nevada prison for stabbing his brother in Las Vegas in 2015.
The first report of a truck crashing into pedestrians and cyclists came in at 10:30 a.m., police said, and other reports followed as the vehicle moved through a busy section of Brooklyn.
Katherine Aronova said she saw the U-Haul run a red light, hit a delivery worker on an e-bike in the middle of the road and drag him a short distance.
“His face was covered with blood. He was unconscious,” and his shoes were scattered on the sidewalk, Aronova said. “The electric bicycle was destroyed completely.”
A security camera video showed the truck clip a scooter, then swerve onto a sidewalk and nearly plow into a pedestrian, who dived to safety just in time. A police patrol car then followed the truck down the sidewalk at high speed.
“I was in shock and didn’t know what was happening until I saw the police patrol was chasing it,” a witness, Andrea Vasquez, said in Spanish. “Thank God that man saved himself,” she added of the person who narrowly escaped.
Aerial video from news helicopters showed the truck on a sidewalk after the chase ended, its path blocked by a police cruiser. Authorities examined the vehicle to make sure it didn't contain explosives.
Sewell said a police officer responding to the incident had a minor injury.
Stephen Sor said his father had been living in Las Vegas for the past few years. He said he didn’t speak to his father often, and was completely caught off guard when he showed up in Brooklyn in the middle of the night about a week ago.
He described his relationship with his father as “rocky,” and said his father had a history of mental illness, as well as not taking medications and acting out.
“I try to just distance, as long as he leaves us alone," Sor said.
Associated Press journalists Julie Walker, David Martin, Michelle Price and Robert Bumsted in New York City; Olga Rodriguez in San Francisco; and Ken Ritter and Rio Yamat in Las Vegas, Nevada, contributed to this report.
UPDATES: This story has been updated with the driver's prison record in Nevada. The summary and headline have been updated. A name has been added to the contributor's line.