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Motorcycles backfiring mistaken for an active shooter in Times Square

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Posted at 5:33 AM, Aug 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-07 08:33:26-04

After a weekend of two mass shootings that left a combined total of at least 31 dead, police say motorcycles backfiring in the popular New York tourist destination Times Square led people to believe they were at the center of a third.

The confusion took place around 10 p.m. Tuesday near 7th Avenue and 46th Street, according to CNN affiliate WLNY . That confusion turned to fear and then chaos, as seen in video from above, but police quickly announced that there was nothing to fear.

"There is no #ActiveShooter in #TimesSquare. Motorcycles backfiring while passing through sounded like gun shots," the NYPD Midtown North said on Twitter .

There were multiple calls to 911 over the incident, NYPD said.

But the backfiring bikes sent people into a panic, with a stampede picking up when terrified people screamed "shooter," according to WLNY.

Several pedestrians were injured in the chaos. They had bruises and lacerations, but nothing was life-threatening, the outlet reported.

By 10:20 p.m. local time, NYPD announced that Times Square was safe.

False alarm at Utah mall

The same night, patrons at Utah's Valley Fair Mall also were panicked by a false alarm during a performance at the venue.

Some people feared the loud bang of a sign falling was the sound of a gunshot, the West Valley City Police Department said. People ran from the performance into stores to hide.

A few skirmishes that took place during the panic and subsequent mall evacuation led to a few arrests, police said. There were no injuries.