The New York City Police Department has issued a statement clarifying that sounds mistaken for gun shots in Times Square were actually the result of "motorcycles backfiring."
The department said Tuesday night they had received multiple 911 inquiries and urged those in the region to refrain from panic, as the sounds were merely the result of a misunderstanding. "There is no active shooter in Times Square," Inspector Brendan M. Timoney said via the Midtown South Precinct Twitter account. "Motorcycles backfiring while passing through sounded like gun shots."
In a subsequent update, Timoney reiterated that all was "safe and secure" in the area and that a "large group" of motorcycles were the source of any "suspicious sounds."
Temporary panic, however, did indeed occur. Video from the area shared on social media shows crowds of people running and screaming upon hearing the sounds, with many offering subsequent commentary on how the ongoing proliferation of mass shootings in the U.S. have inspired a general sense of uneasiness in such situations.
Per an NBC News report, "at least one pedestrian" sustained injuries due to a fall amid the Times Square panic.
Also on Tuesday, a pair of false alarms in Utah and Louisiana inspired similar responses. At a Louisiana Walmart, authorities have confirmed there was no shooting despite initial fears stoked by what is now believed to have been an altercation between two men during which a handgun may have been seen by witnesses. And at a mall in Utah, a falling sign created a loud bang that resulted in people taking cover.