The man suspected of intentionally crashing into a crowd of pedestrians celebrating the new year in Rochester, N.Y. was identified Tuesday morning by police, hours after he died at a local hospital.
Michael Avery, 35, drove his rented SUV into a crowd outside the Kodak Center just before 1 a.m. on New Year’s Day, police said.
A concert at the venue had just ended, and the streets were packed with people and vehicles. Two people were killed in the crash, while 10 others were injured.
Investigators spoke with Avery’s family and learned he “may have been suffering from possible undiagnosed mental health issues,” Rochester Police Chief David Smith said Tuesday morning at a press conference. Cops found no evidence that any “political or social bias” motivated Avery’s attack.
Avery arrived in the Rochester area from his hometown of Syracuse on Dec. 27 and booked a hotel room in the west suburb of Greece, according to Smith. Two days later, he rented the Ford Expedition he drove in the suspected attack.
On Dec. 30, Avery drove around the city purchasing gas containers and filling them with fuel, Smith said. He was operating alone during this time.
On New Year’s Eve, the Kodak Center hosted a concert by moe., a jam band that Rochester Mayor Malik Evans called a “Grateful Dead tribute band.” The concert was letting out just before 1 a.m. when Avery sped down the road in his rented Expedition, according to police.
As Avery picked up speed toward the crowded roads, he slammed into a rideshare driver pulling out of a parking lot, Chief Smith said. The force of that collision carried the two vehicles into a crowd of pedestrians.
Two passengers in the back of the rideshare were killed, and the driver was wounded, according to investigators. Nine pedestrians were also wounded, one of whom suffered “life-altering” injuries, Smith said.
It took responding firefighters nearly an hour to put out the fire from the crash, and afterward they discovered at least a dozen gas canisters.
As part of the investigation, officers searched Avery’s hotel room and his personal vehicle. They did not find a suicide note or any explanation for the attack, according to Smith.
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