Motorcycles backfiring mistaken for active shooter in Times Square

Crowds scatter in panic, call 9-1-1

By Madeline Holcombe, CNN
Copyright 2019 CNN

A motorcycle backfire sent crowds running in Times Square Tuesday night, over fears of a shooting.

NEW YORK - After a weekend of two mass shootings that left a combined total of at least 31 dead, police say motorcycles backfiring in the popular New York tourist destination Times Square led people to believe they were at the center of a third.

The confusion took place around 10 p.m. Tuesday near 7th Avenue and 46th Street, according to CNN affiliate WLNY. That confusion turned to fear and then chaos, as seen in video from above, but police quickly announced that there was nothing to fear.

"There is no #ActiveShooter in #TimesSquare. Motorcycles backfiring while passing through sounded like gun shots," the NYPD Midtown North said on Twitter.

There were multiple calls to 911 over the incident, NYPD said.

But the backfiring bikes sent people into a panic, with a stampede picking up when terrified people screamed "shooter," according to WLNY.

Several pedestrians were injured in the chaos. They had bruises and lacerations, but nothing was life-threatening, the outlet reported.

By 10:20 pm local time, NYPD announced that Time Square was safe.

CNN's Amanda Jackson and Joe Sutton contributed to this report.

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