Local terror expert weighs in on deadly Manhattan attack

James Brown spent 30 years in Jacksonville Sheriff's Office

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A local terror expert weighed in on Tuesday's deadly attack in Manhattan, saying there's only one way people can protect themselves in situations such as this.

Authorities said a man in a rented pickup truck mowed down pedestrians and cyclists along a busy bike path near the World Trade Center memorial on Tuesday, killing at least eight and seriously injuring 11 in what the mayor called "a particularly cowardly act of terror."

The driver was shot in the abdomen by police after jumping out of the truck with what turned out to be a fake gun in each hand and shouting what witnesses said was "Allahu Akbar!," Arabic for "God is great," authorities said. He underwent surgery and was expected to survive.

Officials who were not authorized to discuss the investigation and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity identified the attacker as 29-year-old Sayfullo Saipov and said he is from Uzbekistan and came to the U.S. in 2010. He has a Florida driver's license but may have been staying in New Jersey, they said.

New York City Police Commissioner James O'Neill said a statement the driver made as he got out of the truck and the method of attack led police to conclude it was a terrorist act.

On Tuesday night, News4Jax spoke with James Brown, who spent 30 years in the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, much of that time in the Special Weapons and Tactics Unit. 

Brown has a private investigations company now, but he served as a detective and worked on the SWAT team during his time with the Sheriff's Office. He also spent time with the U.S. Marshals Service.

Brown called the attack “carnage,” and said that’s typically a goal, or the goal, for terrorists.

He talked about how people can protect themselves from an incident such as the one that happened on Tuesday.

"The only way you can protect yourself in these times is to be observant. Pay attention to your surroundings. If you see something unusual that looks out of place, don't just dismiss it," Brown said. "You have to pay attention."

Brown said for someone qualified and brave enough, there are ways to fight back against terror.

"I wouldn't suggest anyone act beyond their own capabilities and their comfort level because, any time you take any action on your own, there's a certain inherent risk involved in that," Brown said. "If you are taking on something like that and you don't have the capabilities or backgrounds or aren't comfortable doing that, then, of course, I would not suggest that. But again, you're talking about a Western way of life. We are all part of that life ... being here in the United States and any terrorist attack, terror attack, is against that way of life."

News4Jax asked Brown about how biker riders can stay safe, especially since there are so many people in the Jacksonville area who love to ride.

He reiterated it’s important to be aware of surroundings at all times. He also suggested that cyclists not wear headphones when riding so they can hear better and pay attention.

About the Authors: