Driver dies after 'intentional' deadly crash outside Rochester concert on New Year's Day

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Tuesday, January 2, 2024
No evidence of terrorism in deadly New Year's crash in Rochester, NY
Investigators are still trying to determine a motive for the crash.

ROCHESTER, New York (WABC) -- Authorities said Tuesday they believe the deadly, fiery crash outside a concert on New Year's Day was intentional but the exact motive still remains unknown.

The driver, tentatively identified as 35-year-old Michael Avery of Syracuse, died on Monday night.

During a press conference Tuesday morning, officials say Avery drove to Rochester a few days before the crash, checked into a hotel, and then rented the vehicle used in the crash before buying cans of gasoline.

The crash happened around 12:50 a.m. as a concert with about 1,000 people in attendance let out at the Kodak Center in Rochester.

Officers were helping pedestrians at the crosswalk in front of the venue, when they say a Ford Expedition driven by Avery sped up and crossed in the oncoming lane of traffic, and appears to have intentionally been driving toward the pedestrians crossing.

At the same time, a ride-share vehicle with two passengers in the back was pulling out of the parking lot and was struck by the Expedition.

The force of the crash caused the two vehicles to go through a group of pedestrians at the crosswalk and into two other vehicles.

The two passengers in the ride-share vehicle were killed and at least nine pedestrians were injured, including one person with life-altering injuries.

A Rochester police officer was among the pedestrians injured.

A large fire broke out after the crash, which took firefighters nearly an hour to extinguish. Authorities say that after the fire was extinguished, first responders found at least a dozen gasoline canisters in and around the Ford Expedition.

Police searched Avery's hotel room after the crash and did not find a suicide note.

Although the motive behind the crime remains unknown, the conversations officials have had with Avery's family so far lead them to believe that Avery had been suffering from undiagnosed mental health issues.

At this time, officials have not been able to identify that anyone else was involved or that this was part of a larger plot. There is also no evidence that this was politically or socially motivated.

"So far we've uncovered no evidence of an ideology and no nexus to terrorism, either international or domestic, so far in the investigation," FBI Special Agent in Charge Jeremy Bell said.

The investigation is being led by the Joint Terrorism Task Force, including local police and the FBI.

"I have been getting inundated with questions as to why this individual would choose ... Rochester, New York, why he would choose to do this on New Year's Day, and why he would appear to target concert goers trying to have a great time to bring in the new year," Mayor Malik Evans said. "Those are all questions that have been raised, and things that we just don't have answers to yet."

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Kemberly Richardson has details.


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