Police, FBI weigh in on if fatal fiery crash outside Kodak Center after New Year's Eve concert is linked to terrorism

ROCHESTER, NY - According to authorities, the fiery car crash on New Year's Day that killed two people and injured several more has not been tied to an act of terrorism. 

The suspect, 35-year-old Michael Avery, of the Syracuse area, had his SUV filled with gas canisters as he sped directly towards an area full of pedestrians, colliding with a car. Avery died later that evening from the injuries he sustained from the car crash.

In an update on Tuesday, January 2nd, Rochester Police Chief David M. Smith said that they are still unclear of Avery's motive, urging anyone with information to come forward. He said that authorities spoke with Avery's family and that they believe "he may have been suffering from possible undiagnosed mental health issues."

Smith added, "We have not recovered any information that his actions were motivated by any form of political or social bias." The police chief said that it is believed that Avery acted alone. 

Two people in a ride-sharing car were killed after Avery slammed into it with a rented Ford Expedition. The crash caused the SUV to burst into flames. The crash happened around 12:52 a.m. on Monday, January 1st, just outside of the Kodak Center. 

Smith said that the two passengers riding in the backseat of the ride-share were killed. They have been identified as 28-year-old Justina Hughes of Geneva, and 29-year-old Joshua Orr of Webster. The ride-share driver was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. 

The ride-share vehicle was struck by Avery's SUV as it was exiting a parking lot at the Kodak Center, where a concert had just finished. Smith said that video of the incident appears to show the pedestrians in the crosswalk outside of the theater as Avery's targets. 

He said, "Avery sped up, crossed into the oncoming lane of traffic and appears to have intentionally been driving towards the pedestrian crossing."

Smith said that the force of the collision caused the two vehicles involved in the crash to strike a group of pedestrians who were in the crosswalk, and then plow into two other vehicles. He added, "There was a large fire associated with the crash that took the Rochester Fire Department almost one hour to extinguish."

Once the fire was put out, first responders found close to a dozen gasoline canisters in and around the Ford Expedition. He stated that at least nine pedestrians were injured in the incident, including two who suffered life-threatening injuries.

During the news conference on Tuesday, January 2rd, Smith said that investigators executed a search warrant on a hotel room where Avery had been staying in Greece, New York. They also executed a search warrant on Avery's personal vehicle, which was found at a parking garage at the Rochester Airport. 

The police chief added that no suicide note or written journals were discovered in either of the places they searched. He added, "Investigators are still combing through evidence recovered from his vehicle, but nothing, thus far recovered provides any additional insight into why this occurred."

Jeremy Bell. the FBI agent in charge of the bureau's Rochester office, confirmed that the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force is involved in the investigation, adding that it is "not abnormal" in a case like this. He said, "But what I can tell you is that, so far, we've uncovered no evidence of ideology and no nexus to terrorism either international or domestic."
For corrections or revisions, click here.
The opinions reflected in this article are not necessarily the opinions of LET
Sign in to comment



Ya can't have a terrorist attack while a Democrat is running for reelection


Ya can't have a terrorist attack while a Democrat is running for reelection

Powered by LET CMS™ Comments

Get latest news delivered daily!

We will send you breaking news right to your inbox

© 2024 Law Enforcement Today, Privacy Policy