The New York Police Department tweeted a reassurance after it received multiple 911 calls about the tumult on Tuesday night.
“There is no ActiveShooter in TimesSquare. Motorcycles backfiring while passing through sounded like gun shots,” the department said.
“Please don’t panic. The Times Square area is very safe!”
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 had people screaming as they fled one of New York City’s most popular areas.
Some pounded on theatre doors to find a place to hide.
Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, said the nation was in fear.
“You hear a noise, you run. That’s the state of this nation. We’re petrified,” he said.
Video footage showed the throngs rushing out of the busy tourism and entertainment area, with some taking cover behind vehicles.
Gideon Glick, an actor in To Kill a Mockingbird on Broadway, said the show at the Shubert Theater had to be stopped because of the chaos.
“Screaming civilians tried to storm our theatre for safety. The audience started screaming and the cast fled the stage,” he wrote on Twitter.
“This is the world we live in. This cannot be our world.”
The Fire Department of New York said nine people were hurt altogether, with six transported to hospitals. Most injuries were minor.
Want to comment?
Send us an email, making it clear which story you’re commenting on and including your full name (required for publication) and phone number (only for verification purposes). Please put “Reader views” in the subject.
We’ll publish the best comments in a regular “Reader Views” post. Your comments can be brief, or we can accept up to 350 words, or thereabouts.
InDaily has changed the way we receive comments. Go here for an explanation.
We value local independent journalism. We hope you do too.
InDaily provides valuable, local independent journalism in South Australia. As a news organisation it offers an alternative to The Advertiser, a different voice and a closer look at what is happening in our city and state for free. Any contribution to help fund our work is appreciated. Please click below to become an InDaily supporter.