Backfiring motorcycle sparks fear of shooter, stampede in Times Square
A backfiring motorcycle sparked a stampede in a packed Times Square after people mistook the sound for gunfire.
Footage posted to social media shows crowds fleeing the popular Manhattan tourist attraction at around 10 p.m. on Tuesday.
The New York Police Department moved quickly to reassure bystanders that there was no shooter and urged people not to panic.
“There is no active shooter in Times Square. Motorcycles backfiring while passing through sounded like gun shots,” NYPD Midtown North tweeted.
“We are receiving multiple 911 calls. Please don’t panic. The Times Square area is very safe!”
Other footage posted to Twitter showed the aftermath of the panic with overturned chairs strewn on the sidewalk and a discarded shoe. Another video showed people hunkered down on the sidewalk and behind benches.
Actor Gideon Glick, who was performing in “To Kill A Mockingbird” at the Shubert Theatre on Broadway, said the play had to be stopped as panicked civilians stormed the venue for safety.
“The audience started screaming and the cast fled the stage,” he wrote.
“This is the world we live in. This cannot be our world.”
Audience member Peter Walsh fled through the emergency exit and “ran until no one was running.”
“Loud screaming from the lobby and people started trying to burst through the doors into the show,” he wrote.
“Crowd panicked and ran out the emergency doors. The street was all running, so I ran until no one was running.”
Shoppers at Disney's flagship store were herded into the back as a precaution, one shopper shared on Twitter.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio also tweeted in the aftermath of the stampede.
“What people felt was all too real,” he wrote.
“Nobody should have to live in constant fear of gun violence. This country is better than this. Let’s fix this now.”
ABC reported that six people were taken to hospital with minor injuries, according to the New York Fire Department.
The U.S. saw a bloody weekend of gun deaths in two mass shootings.
Nine people were killed in Dayton, Ohio, by a gunman with an AR-15 style gun. The shooting outside a strip of nightclubs early Sunday and another in El Paso, Texas, on Saturday left a combined total of 31 people dead and more than 50 injured in less than 24 hours.