No evidence of nexus to terrorism in deadly Rochester crash, officials say | CNN


[Breaking news update, published at 10:55 a.m. ET]

The suspect in the deadly Rochester, New York, crash has died, and there is no indication of “political or social biases,” authorities say. Two other people were killed in the crash.

“We’ve not uncovered any information leading us to believe that the actions of Michael … are motivated by any form of political or social biases,” Rochester Police Chief David M. Smith said Tuesday.

Officials have not identified a nexus to terrorism in the incident, said FBI Special Agent in Charge Jeremy Bell. The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force is investigating the incident, he said, but added that is “not abnormal.”

[Previous story, published at 9:33 a.m. ET]

A deadly car crash outside a New Year’s concert in Rochester, New York, is being investigated as domestic terrorism after the suspect allegedly left a suicide note and journal in his hotel room, according to a source familiar with the investigation.

The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force is investigating after two vehicles – one laden with gas canisters – crashed and plowed into the crowd outside the concert at the Kodak Center, killing two people and injuring five others. The suspect, who has been identified as Michael Avery from Syracuse, has died, two law enforcement sources said.

The FBI defines domestic terrorism as involving acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of US or state laws, appearing to be intended to intimidate or coerce civilians, influence the policy of government by intimidation or coercion, or affect the conduct of government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping.

Live updates: Crash being investigated as domestic terrorism

Revelers were walking on a crosswalk outside the venue at around 12:50 a.m. Monday when a Ford SUV slammed into a Mitsubishi Outlander that was leaving a nearby parking lot, Rochester Police Chief David Smith said at a news conference Monday.

The force of the crash sent the vehicles through a group of pedestrians who were on the crosswalk, Smith said.

Two passengers in the Mitsubishi were killed and the driver was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The Ford’s driver was also hospitalized with life-threatening injuries, according to the chief.

Three pedestrians who were struck were taken to a hospital, one with life-threatening injuries, Smith said.

Avery’s family has been interviewed by investigators. Authorities say the suspect’s family believes he was bipolar, though he had not been diagnosed.

President Joe Biden has been briefed on the crash, a White House official said.

The crash ignited a fire that took firefighters nearly an hour to extinguish, the chief said.

Once the flames were out, first responders found “at least a dozen gasoline canisters in and around the striking vehicle,” the chief said.

“Based on the danger level associated with these, the Rochester police department bomb squad and the joint arson task force responded to the scene,” Smith added.

Two people were killed and five others were injured when two cars collided, caught fire and plowed into a crowd as a New Year's Eve concert was letting out from Kodak Center in Rochester, New York on January 1.

It’s unclear what led to the crash, or why the canisters were at the scene.

“We are continuing to work with our federal partners, including the FBI, to learn exactly what led to this crash,” Smith said.

The FBI said its Buffalo office is assisting Rochester police in the investigation.

“As we continue to investigate and collaborate with our law enforcement partners, details are limited at this time,” the FBI said in a statement on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Images from CNN affiliate WHAM show a heavily damaged and burned black SUV stopped head-on in front of another vehicle in the aftermath of the crash, with charred red canisters and debris littering the roadway.

Rochester Mayor Malik Evans at Monday’s news conference asked for patience as the investigation continues and urged anyone with information about the incident to reach out to authorities.

“Nothing is too small with cases like this,” he said.

Evans offered his condolences to the families of those who lost their lives and asked the community to pray for those families and those who were injured.

“I would have been liking to stand at this podium to deliver happy new year and smile and say good news, but unfortunately … we have several individuals whose family’s lives are changed because they will not be here to bring in 2024,” Evans said.

The rock band performing at the venue before the crash, moe., posted a statement on Facebook, expressing their “profound shock and sadness” over the incident.

“On a night that was meant for celebration and togetherness, we are faced instead with a tragedy that defies understanding,” the band said. “Our hearts go out to the family and friends of those who lost their lives, and our thoughts are with those who were injured.”

CNN reached out to the Rochester Police Department, the Rochester Fire Department, the Kodak Center and the FBI for further comment.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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