NEW YORK (AP) — Frantic people scrambled to get out of Times Square on Tuesday evening, pounding on theater doors to find a place to hide after the sound of a motorcycle backfiring caused fear that gunshots were being fired in the wake of mass shootings in other American cities.
The New York Police Department, which said it received multiple 911 calls about the tumult, tweeted a reassurance: “There is no #ActiveShooter in #TimesSquare. Motorcycles backfiring while passing through sounded like gun shots.”
“Please don’t panic. The Times Square area is very safe!” the department added.
But after 31 people were killed in two mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, in less than 24 hours over the weekend, the sudden discharge of loud noises Tuesday night had people screaming as they fled in one of New York City’s most popular areas.
“You hear a noise, you run. That’s the state of this nation. We’re petrified,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, said Wednesday as he reflected on the panic.