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Tragedy Unfolds Upstate New York Man Drives Into New Year’s Concert Crowd, Two Dead and Nine Injured

A tragic incident unfolded in Rochester as 35-year-old Michael Avery from Syracuse, N.Y., drove a rented SUV into a crowd leaving a New Year’s concert, resulting in two fatalities and nine injuries, according to police reports.

Rochester Police Chief David Smith identified Avery as the driver who died on Monday night. The incident, initially treated as a potential act of domestic terrorism, was later declared void of any “political or social biases” during a press conference on Tuesday. The rented SUV was found to be loaded with at least 12 gasoline canisters.

Smith noted that while the motive remains unknown, conversations with Avery’s family suggest he may have been grappling with undiagnosed mental health issues. Authorities found no indication of a larger plot or involvement of others.

The tragedy occurred an hour after New Year’s, as concertgoers were leaving the Kodak Center theater complex. Avery, driving a rented Ford Expedition, collided with a Mitsubishi Outlander rideshare vehicle in a parking lot exit, accelerating intentionally towards a pedestrian crossing. The impact resulted in the deaths of two Outlander passengers and injuries to nine pedestrians, one in critical condition.

Avery, who checked into a Rochester hotel on Wednesday, rented the SUV on Friday and was observed purchasing a gas canister before the incident. He bought additional gasoline and containers on Saturday. Authorities executed a search warrant at his hotel room, found no suicide note, and searched his vehicle without uncovering additional insights.

Rochester Mayor Malik D. Evans expressed condolences to the victims’ families and acknowledged the ongoing investigation. The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force is involved, but as of now, there is no evidence of ideological motives or terrorism links, according to Jeremy Bell, the FBI agent in charge of the Rochester office. Bell urged patience as investigators work to piece together the details, committing to providing updates as more information emerges.

Rhiannon Ingle
Rhiannon Ingle
Journalist at the Medialinker Group
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