Halloween 2017 turned out to be a warm beautiful day across the region, and 32-year-old New Milford resident Darren Drake, who worked in Lower Manhattan on Wall Street, decided to go for a bike ride on a path next to the Hudson River during his lunch break

Drake and seven others were killed that day after a lone-wolf terrorist inspired by ISIS rented a truck and roared down the pathway, striking and killing everyone he could.

Following the attack, U.S Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J. 5th District, who serves on the House Homeland Security Committee, began to work on legislation designed to stop such attacks from taking place.

The measure was passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate, and President Biden will sign the bipartisan Darren Drake Act into law by the end of this week as a key provision of the national defense bill.

Using vehicles as weapons

During a news conference on Wednesday, Gottheimer said the Department of Homeland Security has made it clear vehicle-born threats remain a major vulnerability.

“The Darren Drake Act will help to stop lone wolf and other domestic terrorists from easily acquiring these trucks and other vehicles used as weapons of war to wreak and cause mass destruction and death," he said.

He said working closely with vehicle rental companies, in consultation with federal, state and local law enforcement, the legislation “requires the Department of Homeland Security to develop a strategy and take concrete steps to stop vehicular terrorist attacks and save lives."

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Gottheimer did not elaborate on exactly how DHS will work with truck rental companies and law enforcement to stop potential threats.

Gottheimer said those who wish to do us harm use vehicles in a very deliberate and horrible manner.

“They represent a weapons of mass destruction deployed by terrorists in their fight against peace and democracy.”

Last year, six people died, including an 8-year-old boy, and dozens were injured when a man drove an SUV through a Christmas parade in suburban Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Fighting back

The Darren Drake Memorial in New Milford. Courtesy Congressman Gottheimer's Office
The Darren Drake Memorial in New Milford.
Courtesy Congressman Gottheimer's Office

“Here in America when we are threatened on our soil we can strike back, we must never give in to threats of extremism and terror," Gottheimer said.

“Violent extremists and lone wolf terrorists remain a national threat. We must continue to take any and all steps possible like this one.”

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at david.matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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