Rochester car explosion motive sought after no terror link found

Investigators in New York are still seeking a motive after two people were killed and several more were injured Monday after a suspect loaded a vehicle with gas cans and caused a "chain of events" crash. 

The crash happened shortly before 1 a.m. Monday as officers were directing traffic after a concert let out.



Rochester police Chief David Smith said the suspect, 35-year-old Michael Avery from Syracuse, appeared to intentionally drive a vehicle towards a crowd of people in a crosswalk. 

The Ford Expedition he was driving, which police said had been rented, crashed into a Mitsubishi Outlander, sending both vehicles through a group of pedestrians that were in the crosswalk.

The Mitsubishi was a rideshare vehicle and was carrying two passengers in the backseat, both of whom died. Smith said Avery died later on Monday. 

Smith said at least nine other people were hurt and the crash caused a fire that took responders more than an hour to extinguish. 



RELATED: Rochester, New York crash kills 2, injures 5 following concert; police investigating

Smith said after Avery rented the SUV on Dec. 29, that he drove around and made at least a half dozen purchases of gasoline in gas containers from different locations in the area.


Images: Rochester NY Police

Since the crash, police have searched Avery’s hotel room and the personal vehicle he drove from Syracuse and say a motive still is unknown. 

Authorities had been investigating the crash as a possible terror attack and say they’ve found no evidence to support that. 

"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."

Smith said his family has suggested he may have had undiagnosed mental health issues. 

The identities of the victims have not yet been given. Smith said one of the nine who is injured has "life-altering" injuries. 

This story was reported from Detroit. The Associated Press contributed.