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Officials Say New York Car Explosion is Not Terrorism, But a Mental Illness Case

The driver of a deadly crash outside a concert venue in Upstate New York on Jan.1 has been identified. However, officials claim that they have not found any links to terrorism despite the presence of multiple canisters full of gasoline in his vehicle. 

Two people in a ride-sharing car were killed after a rented Ford Expedition that was being driven by the suspect, 35-year-old Michael Avery, rammed into it and exploded into flames as it tore through the pedestrians in a crosswalk outside the Kodak Center at about 12:52 a.m on Monday Jan.1.

Two people were killed, identified by Police as Justina Hughes, 28, of Geneva, and Joshua Orr, 29, of Webster.

The ride-share driver survived with minor injuries. 

Avery died in the collision and an additional nine people were injured with one suffering from serious injuries. 

The video released indicates that the pedestrians in the crosswalk outside the theater were Avery’s targets. 

In a conference on Tuesday Jan.2, Rochester Police Chief David Smith said at a news conference Tuesday morning, “Avery sped up, crossed into the oncoming lane of traffic and appears to have intentionally been driving towards the pedestrian crossing,” Smith said.

“There was a large fire associated with the crash that took the Rochester Fire Department almost one hour to extinguish,” Smith said.

First responders discovered at least a dozen gasoline canisters both in and around the Ford Expedition once the fire was extinguished, the police chief said.

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

Avery’s family have told investigators that he was “suffering from possible undiagnosed mental health issues.

Critics took to social media, accusing the police for reducing a potential act of terrorism to an act caused by a mentally ill individual.

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