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NYPD looking for 6 men after backfiring motorcycles cause Times Square panic

Posted at 6:26 PM, Aug 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-07 22:22:39-04

TIMES SQUARE, Manhattan — The NYPD is looking to talk to six men who were riding motorcycles through Times Square Tuesday night.

One or more of the motorcycles backfired and people thought it was gunfire. People scrambled, running for cover. Many ducked into stores, restaurants and theaters.

"They just ran in screaming like 'somebody shooting, somebody shooting,'"a Starbucks worker told PIX11 News.

But there was no shooting.

NYPD Counterterrorism Chief James Waters said that, to an untrained ear, backfiring motorcycles sound like gun shots.

"The tragic events that have taken place in Dayton and in El Paso and other parts of the country in the last seven days, it's on everyone's mind. It's a concern. It's in their subconscious," he said.

Dr. David Straker, a Manhattan psychiatrist, said it's not surprising people are scared and would automatically think it's a mass shooting.

"The more and more shootings that occur and the copy cat reactions that occur, it gets people more and more aware," he said.

Chief Waters said the Counterterrorism Unit learns from each mass shooting about how to keep New Yorkers and visitors safe.

"We are looking now at what happened in Dayton, and we're making adjustments in our deployments to change things up," Waters said.

There were minor injuries as people scrambled for safety. The FDNY said it treated nine people and six went area hospitals.