Times Square went into a panic Tuesday night after a motorcycle backfire was mistaken for gunfire and a crowd of people went running. Police confirmed that there was not an active shooter in New York City’s Times Square and that the alarming noise was harmless.
The Daniels Group shared a video of the scary scene on Twitter, writing “People fleeing and hiding from #timessquare after suspected live shooter #NewYork we caught this from our hotel bar 10th floor #police confirmed this was not a live shooter #timessquare #NYC.” In the video, hundreds of people can be seen running up Broadway, and the video even caught the screams of panicked runners. Times Square, which is normally packed with tourists and other visitors at 10pm ET, especially during the summer holiday, is all but cleared out by the end of the 45-second long clip.
@pzf shared a video of Times Square after the panic had subsided and emergency vehicles arrived on scene to assess the situation and help those who had been injured or separated from their families as the crowd stampeded away from where the motorcycle backfired.
While fears that the noises were gunshots proved incorrect, it is not surprising that many jumped to that scary conclusion, especially after the two mass shootings that took place in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio just days earlier. Others mistook the sound for a bomb going off, another valid fear for New Yorkers ever since the 9/11 terror attacks.
The NYPD Confirmed That There Was No Active Shooter in Times Square
The Midtown North New York Police Department confirmed that there was no safety threat in Times Square and that any fears of an active shooter were rooted in misunderstanding. The NYPD tweeted “There is no #ActiveShooter in #TimesSquare. Motorcycles backfiring while passing through sounded like gun shots. We are recieving multiple 911 calls. Please don’t panic. The Times Square area is very safe!”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed on Twitter that Times Square was safe, but also commented on how people in the US should not be in constant fear of gun violence and active shooters. He wrote “Times Square is safe and secure per @NYPDNews. The noises earlier were motorcycles backfiring, not gunshots. But what people felt was all too real. Nobody should have to live in constant fear of gun violence. This country is better than this. Let’s FIX this NOW.”
Broadway Shows Were Interrupted by the Panic
The panic happened while many Broadway shows were just starting to let out their Tuesday night audiences, and some performances were interrupted by the screams just outside the theater doors. Gideon Glick, who stars in To Kill a Mockingbird on Broadway, tweeted “Stopped our show tonight due to a motorcycle backfire that was mistaken for a bomb or a shooting. Screaming civilians tried to storm our theater for safety. The audience started screaming and the cast fled the stage. This is the world we live in. This cannot be our world.”
Ian Thorne, who was visiting New York City and in the Times Square area to see the Broadway musical Come From Away, tweeted his experience during amidst the terrifying chaos: “Family vacation in NYC. Just saw Come From Away, and were in Times Square when just after 10pm a wave of people rushed towards us in panic after someone screamed ‘shooter’. We ran, so as to not get crushed, and hid, along with many others, in a hotel restaurant.”