People walking in Times Square ran for their lives last night after what sounded like multiple gunshots rang out. Police said it was a motorcycle backfiring.
Multiple backfires on the road happened near Eighth Avenue and West 42nd Street, according to the NYPD. Witnesses said they saw people screaming and climbing over each other, scattering north on Broadway sometime around 9:30 p.m.
20+ people were hurt in the frenzy, but most of the people injured refused medical attention and less than six people went to a hospital for minor injuries. Several ambulances and police patrol vehicles were still on the scene an hour after the panic calmed down.
Crowds of people unaware of what was going on took off away from the booming sound. Some thought it was gunfire and others thought it was an explosion.
Witnesses expressed being scared due to the recent mass shootings that took place in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, that claimed at least 31 lives.
The NYPD’s Midtown North precinct quickly sent out a tweet to claim the anxiety that there is
“no #ActiveShooter in #TimesSquare. Motorcycles backfiring while passing through sounded like gunshots … Please don’t panic. The Times Square area is very safe!”
A woman described being stuck inside a theater during the stampede, separated from her daughter. Bridget Siljander said,
“Everyone thought there was a shooter coming down the streets. I thought I was going to watch my daughter get shot down in front of me.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio reacted on Twitter following the incident, saying
“the panic and fear people felt tonight was all too real. Nobody should have to live in constant fear of gun violence. NOBODY.”
There is no #ActiveShooter in #TimesSquare. Motorcycles backfiring while passing through sounded like gun shots.— NYPD Midtown North (@NYPDMTN) August 7, 2019
We are recieving multiple 911 calls. Please don’t panic. The Times Square area is very safe! @NYPDnews @NYPDTimesSquare
(Photo, screen grab; via NBC New York)