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The Octagon

Faculty member to run in New York City Marathon following Oct. 31 terror attack

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(Photo via CNN under Creative Commons license)
The Home Depot rental truck that the terror attack’s suspect, identified as Sayfullo Saipov, drove onto a bike path in lower Manhattan on Oct. 31.

When a terrorist drove down a busy bicycle path in Manhattan and killed eight people on Tuesday, Oct. 31, three alumni weren’t far away.  Austin Talamantes, ’17, and Ryan Ho, ’15, attend New York University. Victoria Loustalot, ’03, is a writer living in New York City.

According to Ho, the distance from NYU’s main campus to the site of the terrorist attack is about 1.5 miles. Loustalot’s apartment was even closer at 0.3 miles from the site of the attack.

Ho and Talamantes both received messages from NYU regarding the incident.

“NYU has public safety accounts on Twitter and Facebook, and they also send out emails with safety announcements,” Talamantes said.

“Whenever (an attack) is happening, the school will send out an announcement and tell the students to stay away from the area.”

While neither Talamantes nor Ho knows anyone personally affected by the attack, Ho is familiar with the area.

“One of my relatives used to work in that area,” Ho said.

“It was a little scary (that the attack was so close to her old office),” he added. “I have friends who (go there a lot ), but (they) were not close to the scene at the time.”

Consequently, Ho said that this attack felt close to home.  

“This attack felt especially scary and almost personal because I recently began biking to school and everywhere using (the) CitiBike bike share program (in New York City),” he said. “The suspect ran down multiple bikers in the bike lane, and I saw mangled CitiBikes in the photos in the news.

(Photo via NBC New York under Creative Commons license)
Bicycles and wreckage lie on the bike path near West and Houston Streets in lower Manhattan following the terror attack on Oct. 31.

Talamantes said he was less affected by news of the attack. “I’m not super concerned about safety,” he said. “(But) it was strange walking around (that) night because there was a huge (number of) police everywhere.”

Naturally, NYU students were talking about the attack.

“We were sitting in (an) anatomy lab when someone mentioned what just happened 30 minutes ago,” Ho said.  

“It felt surreal because we were both so close and (yet) isolated from (the attack). We also didn’t know the extent of the attack at the time, which made it scarier.”

However, Ho said he is confident in the New York Police Department

“I’m not sure if there’s anything we can do aside from being more careful and vigilant,” he said. “Safety is just something that comes with living in the city.”        

“NYPD is one of the best police forces in the world. At some point we just have to trust them and leave it to their expertise.”

High school physics teacher Glenn Mangold, who is running in the New York City Marathon on Sunday, Nov. 5, said he is not worried about safety. He also said he knows of no new precautions put in place because of the attack. (Mangold finished the race in 3 hours, 20 minutes, 32 seconds with an average mile of 7 minutes, 39 seconds.)

However, according to a report on National Public Radio on Nov. 3, the NYPD is taking extra precautions, doubling the number of rooftop observation teams and counter-sniper teams in areas near the marathon.

The article added that this race will see the greatest number of sand trucks and vehicles in its 44-year history.

(Photo via NBC New York under Creative Commons license)
New York Police Department officers arrive on the scene on Oct. 31 following the act of terror near the World Trade Center memorial in lower Manhattan.

Loustalot also saw increased security at a parade she attended on Oct. 31. The attack occurred merely hours before New York City’s 44th annual Village Halloween Parade and blocks away from where the parade would start.

Loustalot said that the parade attracts over two million spectators and 50,000 participants each year.

“This year the parade was not canceled, but the police presence was much greater than is typical,” she said.

“In the hour or so before the parade officially began, the mood downtown was understandably somber and much quieter than it has been in recent years.”

As for the rest of the Big Apple, it’s going to see more heavy weapons teams and police dogs for awhile, according to the NPR report.

By Kristine Schmitz

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