SUV Filled With Explosives Crashes Into Crowd

In a tragic incident on New Year’s Day in Rochester, New York, a couple was killed and several others were injured when a man drove a vehicle loaded with explosives into another car and a crowd outside a concert. The driver of the attacking vehicle, 35-year-old Michael Avery, also died in the crash.

Law enforcement reported that Avery had filled his car with about a dozen gas canisters and aimed to drive into a large crowd leaving a concert at the Kodak Center. Approximately 1,000 people were exiting the concert to celebrate the New Year when the incident occurred around 1 a.m.

Avery’s vehicle first collided with a Mitsubishi Outlander, which was functioning as an Uber at the time, killing its two passengers, 28-year-old Justina Hughes and 29-year-old Joshua Orr. The Uber driver sustained non-life-threatening injuries and was taken to the hospital, as stated by Rochester Police Chief David Smith.

The collision subsequently led to Avery’s vehicle hitting the crowd, injuring at least five people, with three requiring hospitalization, including one with critical injuries.

Following the crash and the extinguishing of the flames, first responders found numerous gasoline canisters in and around Avery’s vehicle. The Rochester police bomb squad and the joint arson task force were called to the scene due to the level of danger posed by the canisters.

Police Chief Smith confirmed that Avery seemed to have intentionally driven towards the pedestrian crossing, and suggested Avery may have had undiagnosed mental health issues.

The FBI is investigating the case, but authorities currently do not believe it was a terrorist act.

Investigations revealed that Avery had traveled from Syracuse to Rochester in his personal vehicle, rented the Ford SUV used in the attack, and bought gasoline and gas canisters at different stores. A suicide note and journal were found in Avery’s hotel room in Rochester, which are being examined to understand his motives. Additionally, authorities plan to search a storage unit belonging to Avery in north Syracuse.