Friends, neighbors shed light on NYC terror attack suspect Sayfullo Saipov

NEW YORK -- The man who police say transformed a New York City bike path into a terror scene was an Uzbekistan native who made 1,400 trips as an Uber driver and formed two commercial truck businesses.

A family friend described the suspect, 29-year-old Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, as hard-working and neighbors said he would play with the children in a Florida apartment complex. But another acquaintance recalled him as "an aggressive character." President Trump derided the suspect as "sick and deranged."

Details of the life of the suspect -- who had connections to many places across the U.S. but no known social media accounts -- have begun to emerge after Tuesday's attack that killed eight people and injured 12. Investigators believe Saipov was acting as a "lone wolf" and not part of a wider terror plot.

Here's what is known so far:

A legal immigrant

CBS News' justice and homeland security correspondent Jeff Pegues reports Saipov had worked as a truck driver and has known addresses in both New Jersey and Florida. 

Saipov arrived in the U.S. on a diversity visa from Uzbekistan in 2010 and became a legal U.S. resident.

Records show Saipov settled in Ohio after his arrival in the country. He reportedly lived first in a Cincinnati suburb and then in Cuyahoga Falls in northeast Ohio as late as 2015, reports CBS affiliate WOIO.

Dilnoza Abdusamatova said Saipov briefly stayed with his family near Cincinnati upon immigrating.

"He always used to work," Abdusamatova told The Cincinnati Enquirer. "He wouldn't go to parties or anything. He only used to come home and rest and leave and go back to work."

A marriage license filed in Summit County, Ohio, lists a man by the name of Sayfulloh Saipov marrying Nozima Odilova on April 12, 2013. It said the couple were living in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, at the time.

The license listed Saipov as a truck driver. His wife is about six years younger. Both listed Tashkent, Uzbekistan, as their hometown.

An acquaintance of Saipov's told the BBC's Uzbek Service that he was shocked to learn of what Saipov had done. Mirakhmat Muminov, a man of Uzbek heritage, said he knew Saipov when they were both living in Ohio.

"We have a small group of Uzbeki community from our back home," Muminov said, and Saipov and been included in the group when he moved to the area.

"First when we see him, he was kind of, a little bit, you know… like a street boy," he said, describing Saipov as "an aggressive character and nothing much, no special thing."

He said "there was no sign" that Saipov was radical in his beliefs. Saipov even kept his beard short, Muminov told the BBC. But as time passed, he said, Saipov "was starting to learn the Islam like a little bit, you know, getting deeper and deeper." 

"We never even think about he can become the terrorist or make some evil things like he did yesterday," Muminov said. 

Florida

Authorities said Saipov had a Florida driver's license and some public records showed an address for him at a Tampa apartment complex.

Residents at that complex said FBI agents came by Tuesday evening and conducted interviews.

One neighbor who spoke with CBS affiliate WTSP on the condition of anonymity said Saipov moved in about a week ago. She saw him come outside the apartment, smoke a cigarette or two and continue about the day.

She said it's terrifying to know she and her family had been living so close to the suspect in a terror attack.

"It's something scary, something bad," the neighbor told WTSP. "Because, you know, knowing you saw a person just move in a week ago and realize everything is going on."

Michael Roberts, 30, an overnight shift worker, said he was asleep when the agents showed up at about 5:30 p.m. but that they interviewed his cousin. He said both he and his cousin had moved in only a week ago and had never heard of Saipov.

A friend who met Saipov in Florida, Kobiljon Matkarov, told The New York Times and the New York Post that he seemed like a "very good guy."

"My kids like him too. He is always playing with them," Matkarov told the Post.

New Jersey

Officials said Saipov was living recently in New Jersey. He allegedly rented a Home Depot pickup truck in New Jersey an hour before driving it onto the bike path.

new york city attack

St. Charles County (Missouri) Dept. of Corrections photo shows Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, the suspected driver who killed eight people in New York on Oct. 31, 2017.

St. Charles County Dept. Of Corrections via Getty

On Tuesday night, police investigating the deadly rampage surrounded a white Toyota minivan with Florida plates parked in the parking lot of a Home Depot in Passaic, New Jersey.

The van was parked near the company's rental trucks.

Law enforcement cordoned off an apartment building in Paterson, New Jersey, early Wednesday. Officers also searched a garage. The building's manager told The Record newspaper that Saipov lived with his wife and children in a two-bedroom apartment.

A neighbor there told CBS New York that Saipov "looked normal to me" and was often seen outside on the phone. Angel Batista said he thought of Saipov as "just my neighbor."

The fact that he is now a suspect in a terror attack is "suprising, shocking and scary," Batista said.

Uber driver

The ride-hailing company Uber said Saipov passed its background check and drove for the service for six months, making more than 1,400 trips.

The company said it was in touch with the FBI and offered its assistance and that it was reviewing Saipov's driving history but found no related safety reports.

Commercial truck driver

Records show Saipov was a commercial truck driver who formed a pair of businesses in Ohio.

The first business, Sayf Motors Inc., used the address of a family friend near Cincinnati with whom Saipov had stayed for a couple of weeks after his arrival in the country.

The second, Bright Auto LLC, used an address near Cleveland.

A trucking industry website listed Saipov at a Paterson, New Jersey, address that authorities were searching Tuesday night. Court records related to trucking-related infractions list Saipov with addresses in Paterson and the Cleveland suburbs.

According to the records, Saipov was ticketed for not having the right brakes on his vehicle in Platte County, Missouri, near Kansas City in late 2015. A warrant was issued for Saipov's arrest in April 2016 when he missed a hearing on the case. He resolved it in November 2016 by pleading guilty and paying $200 in fines and court costs.