Panic erupted in New York City's Times Square on Tuesday night when a backfiring motorcycle was mistaken for gunfire, WCBS-TV said, and several pedestrians were reportedly injured in the resulting stampede.
Afterward, far-left New York City Mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Bill de Blasio politicized the Times Square stampede, tweeting that "the panic and fear people felt tonight was all too real. Nobody should have to live in constant fear of gun violence. NOBODY."
Police said at least one motorcycle backfired several times near Seventh Avenue and 46th Street just before 10 p.m., the station said, adding that the driver was part of a large group of motorcyclists traveling through the area.
According to WCBS, witnesses said tourists were running for shelter, leaving their shoes and bags behind, jumping over counters, and even trampling fellow pedestrians.
"A lot of kids crying," one man told the station while another witness said "there were shoes everywhere."
"We were against the wall and just hugging each other," a mother told WCBS, adding that she also was "praying this wasn't the end."
The station said social media users claimed some screamed "shooter" as well.
Up to 20 people were hurt, authorities told WNBC-TV, adding that most refused medical attention and fewer than six went to a hospital for minor injuries. WCBS said the injuries ranged from bumps and bruises to cuts.
What was the reaction to the mayor's tweet?
A number of commenters didn't take kindly to de Blasio's tweet about living in "constant fear of gun violence":
- "Hey Billy, I don't live in a 'constant fear of gun violence.' Know why? Because I live in a state where I legally carry a concealed handgun ..."
- "You idiot. There's constant gun shots in Brooklyn, why don't you talk about gun violence in inner cities?"
- "How about the ILLEGAL guns on the streets of NYC and shootings on the rise all because of your s**tty liberal policy?"
- "Times Square is kept safe by the people in uniform that you show nothing but condescension and disdain for. You're a lying B.S. er. Resign."
- "Do NYC a favor and step down. Make room for a real leader."