Crowd Runs in Panic in Times Square, Fears of Shooting After Motorcycles Backfire

August 7, 2019 Updated: August 7, 2019

A scene of chaos erupted in Times Square late Tuesday, Aug. 6, as crowds appear to run in all directions after what sounded like multiple gunshots rang out. The New York Police Department has since confirmed that there was no active shooter and the sounds were due to loud motorcycle backfiring.

The incident occurred around 9:30 p.m., according to NBC New York. Police said multiple motorcycle backfires were heard near Eighth Avenue and West 42nd St., and that at least one person was injured from having fallen while running during the chaos, the outlet reported.

One person tweeted a video of the scene from above. The video shows a crowd dispersing while screams can be heard.

“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,” they wrote.

Police received calls around 9:45 p.m. according to the New York Daily News.

One witness described the experience as “freaky.”

“In Times Square. There was a loud sound (later heard it was a motorcycle backfiring) and everyone panicked. Running en masse, men yelling “Get down!” Separated from my brother, but now fine. Freaky experience,” they wrote.

The NYPD posted to Twitter, to urge the public to not panic and reassure them that Times Square is “very safe!”

“There is no #ActiveShooter in #TimesSquare. Motorcycles backfiring while passing through sounded like gun shots,” a tweet from NYPD Midtown North read. “We are recieving multiple 911 calls. Please don’t panic. The Times Square area is very safe!”

“Please be advised that all is safe and secure in [Times Square]. All reports of suspicious sounds were due to a large group of [motorcycles] cruising through the area on this nice evening,” NYPD Midtown South tweeted.

One person in Times Square at the time tweeted that the Disney Store took precautions by redirecting their customers to the back of their premises.

“At the Disney Store in Times Square when a backfiring motorcycle was mistaken for gunfire. Staff kept all customers safe and were clearly well prepared,” he wrote.

The scene of panic took place just days after two mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio occurred over the weekend within 13 hours of each other, leaving at least 31 dead and more wounded.

In El Paso, 20 people were killed and 26 wounded on Aug. 3 in a shopping center attack. Another two victims died of their wounds on Aug. 5, raising the death toll to 22.

In Dayton, nine people were killed—including the shooter’s own sister—and 27 more were wounded on Aug. 4. The shooter was shot dead by police and a motive was not immediately clear.

Reports of Shots Fired in Illinois

The brief panic in Times Square comes as police responded to a scene at a Walmart Supercenter in Bedford Park, Illinois earlier in the night, according to local reports.

Local news station WGN9 reported that there was police responded to the scene at 7050 S Cicero Ave around 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Some customers inside the shopping center said they had heard shots fired, and police said they had received calls about possible shots fired, the outlet reported. They later found one shell casing across the street at a public storage facility, according to WGN9.

NBC Chicago reported that there were no injuries reported, and it remains unclear whether there was an active shooter in the area.

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