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Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim celebrates in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Pittsburgh in Syracuse Saturday.

Eight killed by driver on bike path in 'cowardly act of terror'

NEW YORK — 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. The man underwent surgery and was in critical condition but was expected to survive.

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

The driver barreled along the bike path in a rented Home Depot truck for the equivalent of about 14 blocks, or around eight-tenths of a mile, before slamming into a small yellow school bus. The mayhem and the burst of police gunfire set off panic in the neighborhood and left the pavement strewn with mangled bicycles and bodies that were soon covered with sheets.

"I saw a lot of blood over there. A lot of people on the ground," said Chen Yi, an Uber driver.

Eugene Duffy, a chef at a waterfront restaurant, said, "So many police came, and they didn't know what was happening. People were screaming. Females were screaming at the top of their lungs."

Argentina's foreign minister said the dead included Argentine citizens.

Police closed off streets across the western edge of lower Manhattan along the Hudson River, and officers rushed into the neighborhood just as people were preparing for Halloween festivities, including the big annual parade through Greenwich Village.

A police bomb squad scoured the truck but found no explosives.

"This was an act of terror, and a particularly cowardly act of terror aimed at innocent civilians, aimed at people going about their lives who had no idea what was about to hit them," Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

New York and other cities around the globe have been on high alert against attacks by extremists in vehicles. The Islamic State has been exhorting its followers to mow down people, and England, France and Germany have seen deadly vehicle attacks in the past year or so.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called it a "lone wolf" attack and said there was no evidence to suggest it was part of a wider plot.

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 Twitter, President Donald Trump called it "another attack by a very sick and deranged person" and declared, "NOT IN THE U.S.A.!"

While police did not specifically blame the Islamic State for the New York bloodshed, Trump railed against the extremist group, tweeting, "We must not allow ISIS to return, or enter, our country after defeating them in the Middle East and elsewhere. Enough!"

Police said Saipov rented the truck at about 2 p.m. in New Jersey, entering the bike path about an hour later on West Street a few blocks from the new World Trade Center, the site of the deadliest terror attack in U.S. history. The truck then turned at Chambers Street, hitting the school bus and injuring two adults and two children.

A paintball gun and a pellet gun were found at the scene, police said. At least two covered-over bodies could be seen lying on the bike path, and the front end of the truck was smashed in, as was the side of the school bus.

Tom Gay, a school photographer, heard people saying there was an accident and went down to West Street, where a woman came around the corner shouting, "He has a gun! He has a gun!"

Gay said he stuck his head around the corner and saw a slender man in a blue track suit running on West Street holding a gun. He said a heavyset man was chasing him.

He said he heard five or six shots, and the man in the tracksuit fell to the ground, gun still raised in the air. He said a man came over and kicked the gun out of his hand.

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Auburn City Council candidates square off in final debate before Election Day

AUBURN — The final debate between the candidates running for Auburn City Council brought out the differences between the four candidates on issues such as the Equal Rights Cultural Heritage Center and public safety.   

The debate between Democratic incumbents Terry Cuddy and Debby McCormick and Republican challengers John Camardo and Adam Miller took place Tuesday afternoon at Cayuga Community College.

Throughout the 90-minute debate, Camardo and Miller blasted the current city government for high taxes and ignoring what the public wants, while Cuddy and McCormick highlighted the positive changes that have happened in Auburn since they were elected to council four years ago, such as the stabilization of the city's finances and growth in downtown Auburn. 

For instance, Camardo and Miller said the current city council's decision to build the Equal Rights Heritage Center in a well-used parking lot is an example of the city council not listening to the concerns of the public. 

"The No. 1 complaint I hear going door-to-door is 'Why does it need to be in that parking lot?'" Miller said.

McCormick rebuked the claim that the city did not listen to the public's input. She said city council and city staff held public meetings, met with neighboring property owners and conducted studies. 

"We did everything possible that we could do to make things work for everyone that's involved," McCormick said.

Cuddy noted that adjustments were made to the original plan based on input from Auburn residents and as a way to compensate from the lost parking, the city council has worked to provide alternate solutions. 

"People don't want to park on Court Street or park in the parking garage," Camardo said. "They want to park in a parking lot that's well lit."  

The candidates also discussed the current staffing levels of the Auburn police and fire departments. 

Cuddy and McCormick said their actions as city councilors shows they support public safety. 

"When Councilor Cuddy and I took office, our public safety — police and fire — I would say were broken," McCormick said. 

She said that the city council had laid off 10 firefighters, which ended up costing the city more money in overtime costs, and the police department was being "mismanaged" by the police chief at the time. Cuddy added the city had let go of several crossing guards, the School Resource Officer program was "in peril" and the Finger Lakes Drug Task Force was dismantled. 

Miller said he thinks the staffing levels are fine for the time being and the city should periodically look into the staffing levels and adjust them as needed. 

Camardo, on the other hand, believes the city needs to hire additional police officers to combat the heroin epidemic.

"We need more police officers out there to take this poison off the streets," Camardo said.  

He said while he was on the city council, from 2012 to 2015, he wanted to hire two additional police officers. Cuddy and McCormick, who were also on the council at the time, were not in support, Camardo said.

The Citizen's Executive Editor Jeremy Boyer asked Camardo and Miller how they would balance the city's budget, since they are both calling for tax decreases. 

Miller said he would go through the budget with a "fine-tooth comb" and prioritize projects based on what the city really needs. Camardo is in support of zero-based budgeting, which would require all city department heads to justify expenses. 

Boyer then asked Cuddy and McCormick why people should choose both of them for re-election, since the city council is currently made up of all Democrats. 

"I don't think the public should worry about us all being one party," Cuddy said. "We're all very different. I don't think party really matters as much in local elections."

McCormick agreed, adding that the five members of council do disagree on certain issues but in the end, want to do what is best for the city of Auburn.  

A recording of the debate will be broadcast on Spectrum channels 12 and 98 at 7 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday and 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday on the same Spectrum channels and on Verizon channel 31. Audio of Tuesday's Auburn City Council forum will be played at 10 a.m. on the college radio station, WDWN, at 89.1 FM. 

In Cayuga County Legislature District 4 race, Kyle touts business background as an asset

Grant Kyle wasn't expecting to become a Cayuga County legislator when he was appointed to the body in 2016. One year later, he wants to continue his work as a government official. 

Kyle is the Democratic, Independence and Working Families party candidate in the District 4 race. The district is comprised of the town of Brutus and village of Weedsport. He's running against Chris Petrus, the Republican and Conservative party nominee.

It's unusual to have an even number district on the ballot when odd number districts are traditionally on the ballot. But the election for the remaining two years of the four-year term is necessary after Mark Farrell, who was re-elected to represent District 4 in 2015, resigned last year.

Kyle, who is an unaffiliated voter, was selected to fill the vacancy. Following his appointment, he opted to caucus with the Democratic majority. 

One reason Kyle took the job: He didn't want to see Brutus unrepresented in the county budget process. 

"I thought it was a great opportunity for me to get involved in the community," he said. 

He also viewed it as a chance to build on his private sector experience. His family operates North Brook Farms, which manufactures cow mattresses in Auburn. He is senior vice president of a sister company, IGK Equestrian, which produces horse arena footing. 

In addition to the manufacturing businesses, Kyle is owner and president of KyleCroft Development, a real estate development company. 

While he values his business experience, he also relishes the opportunity to serve in a public role. 

"It's definitely nice to be able to think about things from a perspective other than your own — your own business, your own good," he said. 

He has a few priorities if he wins another two years on the county Legislature. CGR, an outside consulting firm, is examining potential consolidation or reorganization at the county level. 

CGR isn't necessarily looking at cuts, he said. But he does believe the review is important for the county's future considerations. 

"We need to be informed," he said. 

The county government's buildings are also on his agenda. There are conversations about the future of the Cayuga County Office Building and whether a new facility should be built or if the current Genesee Street structure should be renovated. 

But Kyle noted that other county buildings are aging, too.

"There's many different avenues to go down, but I think that it needs to be addressed," he said. 

Like other candidates on the ballot this year, water quality is a high priority for Kyle. Blue-green algae in Owasco Lake poses problems for most of the county. Owasco Lake is the main drinking water source for 50,000 residents. 

There should be no delay in addressing water concerns, Kyle said. 

"It's gotta be dealt with now," he said. "We're just talking about having a multi-front attack on trying to deal with the issue." 

The challenges Cayuga County faces interest Kyle. Between the possibility of reorganization, the hiring of a new administrator and the future of the county's buildings, there are plenty of decisions that will need to be made that impact the entire county.

"I think this is gonna be a pretty exciting time to try to come up with what the future is going to look like," he said. "That's pretty motivating to me." 

Petrus driven by desire to help people in Cayuga County Legislature District 4

For Chris Petrus, the 2017 election presents a dream opportunity. 

He has achieved one of his life goals: becoming a parole officer. The outstanding item on his wish list is serving as a Cayuga County legislator. 

Petrus, a Republican, is a candidate for the District 4 seat representing the town of Brutus. His opponent is Grant Kyle, who was appointed legislator after Mark Farrell resigned in 2016. Petrus is also running on the Conservative Party ballot line, while Kyle has secured the Democratic, Working Families and Independence lines.

This is the third time Petrus has been a candidate for Cayuga County legislator. He was on the ballot in 2011 when Farrell mounted a write-in campaign to defeat him in the general election. He ran again in 2015, but Farrell won that race, too. 

The Nov. 7 election is for the remaining two years of the four-year term Farrell won in 2015. 

Petrus said his top priorities include clean water. Even though the district is in northern Cayuga County, he believes the entire county is affected by water quality issues. 

"Potable water is more than just drinking and showering," he said. "It's about economic development as well. It lures businesses to the area." 

Consolidation and privatization are also on his agenda. He lauded the Cayuga County Legislature's decision in 2013 to merge the county nursing home with Mercy Health & Rehabilitation Center. 

The vote wasn't popular at the time, he said, but he believes it worked and saved the county money. 

One idea he said the county should consider is privatizing the Cayuga County Office of Mental Health. He's open to exploring other efforts to privatize government agencies. 

"These are issues that we can capitalize on," he said. 

Petrus doesn't think the county is headed in the right direction. Democrats won control of the county Legislature in 2015, which gave them the ability to enact their agenda. 

As a Republican, Petrus doesn't support that agenda. 

"I think we should be about smaller government, not about building a new county office building," he said. For the half the price, we can refurbish the one we have. 

"This is a unique opportunity with the resignation of (Farrell). There is an even district up in odd years. We have a unique time to take back the county Legislature and then we can dictate the course. We can set the agenda. I hope to be part of pointing us in the right direction." 

If he is successful, Petrus would be the latest member of his family to serve in county government. His late mother, Ann, was a county legislator. Before that, she was the first woman ever elected to serve as Brutus town supervisor. 

After seeing his mother as a legislator and a supervisor, Chris Petrus said he will make constituent service a top priority. 

He's also driven by a desire to assist his community. Petrus recalled his first job working out of college was at Head Start. He also worked as a case manager before he became a parole officer. 

"Why vote for me? Because I'm here for you," he said. "My door is always open, my phone is always on and I'm hoping to help people." 

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Buffalo Wild Wings in Aurelius to close

The Aurelius location of Buffalo Wild Wings will close Dec. 17, its management said in a statement to The Citizen Tuesday.

"As we open new locations around the country and others come up on lease expiration, we sometimes need to make the decision to close locations that no longer reflect an up-to-date Buffalo Wild Wings experience," Western New York District Manager James Farrance said in the statement.

The sports bar and casual restaurant opened in 2007 in the Fingerlakes Crossing plaza on Routes 5 and 20. The plaza is owned by Northeast Capital Group, of Ramapo, which purchased it from the Cameron Group, of Syracuse, in September 2016.

Based in Minneapolis, Buffalo Wild Wings has more than 1,200 locations nationwide, including ones in the Township 5 shopping development in Camillus and on Elmira Road in Ithaca. It closed its Cicero location in March. The company's stock surged more than 20 percent Oct. 26 after it reported significant profits from boneless wings in its third-quarter earnings. The stock had previously been struggling in part due to record-high wholesale chicken wing prices.

Farrance directed further questions to Buffalo Wild Wings' public relations department, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.