About 22 people were injured after a large crowd in New York City’s Times Square fled in panic on Tuesday night, Aug. 6, when they mistook the sound of backfiring motorcycles for gunshots.
The NYPD quickly arrived on the scene after receiving a flood of 911 calls around 9:45 p.m., but confirmed there was no active shooter and said the city’s famous theater district was safe.
About 22 people were injured in the melee, six of whom were sent to a nearby hospital with minor injuries.
A woman with a broken wrist and a man with a fractured kneecap were the most serious injuries, TIME reported.
“Please don’t panic. The Times Square area is very safe!” The NYPD tweeted.
— NYPD Midtown North (@NYPDMTN) August 7, 2019
A Twitter user posted her video opining the noise didn’t sound like a motorcycle backfiring.
“It sounded like gunshots, it definitely did. Two or three thousand people, maybe, just dissipated into thin air,” Harlem resident Even Dore told CBS New York.
Videos on social media showed people running in fear after the loud sound echoed around midtown. Social media users claimed some people screamed “shooter,” sending more people stampeding in fear.
The false alarm sent people fleeing into restaurants and theaters, disrupting a performance of “To Kill a Mockingbird” at the Shubert Theatre on 44th Street near Seventh Avenue.
CBS New York reported that people literally ran out of their shoes, dropped their bags, jumped over counters, even trampled those who couldn’t keep up. Many children were crying. It was possible to see abandoned shoes and purses on and around the outdoor tables at Junior’s.
“They jumped out of shoes. There were shoes everywhere,” a Times Square employee said.
“It’s a shame the climate of America is like that,” Dore said.
“This is the world we live in. This cannot be our world,” Gideon Glick, an actor, who plays Dill Harris in “To Kill a Mockingbird” on Broadway, wrote on his Twitter.
Police said that the gunshot-like sounds came from a group of six men revving the engines on their dirt bikes, TIME reported.
The scare came just days after 22 people were killed in a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas and nine others were killed in Dayton, Ohio, in massacres that happened fewer than 24 hours apart.