Car Filled With Gas Canisters Slams Into Crowd, Killing Two - Police Investigate As Possible Terrorism

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

It's barely into the new year, and we already have the first incident of possible terrorism involving an SUV hitting cars and people in Rochester, New York. 


About 1000 people were leaving the Kodak Center around 12:50 a.m. on Jan. 1 after a rock concert by the band moe. 

Police were helping people to cross the street as they were leaving the concert. 

But then, according to the police, a Ford Expedition slammed into a Mitsubishi Outlander that was operating as an Uber, forcing it into the crosswalk, hitting pedestrians coming out of the Center, and then hitting two other vehicles. The cars then exploded into an enormous blaze that took firefighters almost an hour to put out. 


In the process, 2 people were killed in the Uber, 2 were transported in life-threatening condition to the hospital including the driver who did this, and 3 are being treated at the hospital in non-life threatening condition. The driver has since died. He has been identified as Michael Avery. His family said they believed that he suffered from bipolar disorder although there was no official diagnosis, according to sources. 

Investigators then found a dozen gasoline canisters in and around the car driven by Avery so they are now investigating it as possible domestic terrorism and they called in their arson squad. The investigation involves the Joint Terrorism Task Force, which includes local police and the FBI.

Avery was from Syracuse and had rented a hotel room in Rochester as well as the extra-large SUV he used to hit people. The police found a suicide note and a journal in the hotel room, and they're looking into a storage unit he had in Syracuse. 

The band thanked the first responders and expressed their shock and sadness at the attack. 

'On a night that was meant for celebration and togetherness, we are faced instead with a tragedy that defies understanding,' the band said in a statement shared on Facebook. 

'Take care of yourselves and each other, as we navigate this time together.' 

ABC News noted at the end of the video above that police believe Avery may have "planned something." That's a true understatement. I think that's a safe bet. The question is what was going on here, was this just some unwell person or was there more involved? 


It's also interesting that it's not getting a lot of national attention yet, given the nature of the crime, and the police even saying they're investigating it as possible terrorism. 

In the current climate, you can't help but be concerned about the heightened possibilities of threats, particularly with things like the anti-Israel activists frequently getting violent in the streets as well as the rhetoric against both Israel and the United States being so heated, constantly calling for an "intifada" and "revolution."  They were even chanting in favor of Yemen after Yemen Houthis attacked U.S. forces. 

Anti-Israel Crew Chants Support for Yemen in NYC, Drops Smoke Bombs in Macy's
Reported Explosions Heard on Roosevelt Island, NYC; Major Emergency Response
Balloons Flew Over JFK Airport During Anti-Israel Protest, Possible Threat to Aviation


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