People across the US are on edge after shootings in El Paso and Dayton, with loud noises in public areas sparking mass panic
- The sound of motorcycles backfiring and signs falling sent crowds in New York and Utah into panic on Tuesday, as the country reels from two back-to-back mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas.
- USA Today's headquarters in McLean, Virginia, was evacuated Wednesday afternoon after mistaken reports of a person with a weapon.
- In each city, authorities confirmed that no shootings had occurred and the chaos was caused by false alarms.
- Photos and videos from the scenes in New York and Utah showed people evacuating buildings, running, screaming, and diving for cover amid fear that gunshots were firing around them.
- For more stories, go to Business Insider SA.
Accidents, mistaken reports, and loud, sudden noises have set off mass panic in major public areas across the United States in recent days, after a spate of deadly mass shootings in Gilroy, California; El Paso, Texas; and Dayton, Ohio.
The shootings killed a combined 35 people and injured dozens of others, setting much of the country on edge and prompting fear over when and where the next massacre would occur.
On Wednesday, authorities evacuated the USA Today headquarters in McLean, Virginia, after reports of a person with a weapon that turned out to be mistaken, authorities said.
"At this time, we have found no evidence of any acts of violence or injuries," the Fairfax County Police Department tweeted.
Reporters and staff members shared photos and videos from outside the building, where they had gathered after the evacuation.
A scare in Times Square
The sound of motorcycles backfiring set off pandemonium Tuesday night in New York City's Times Square, one of the most-visited tourist destinations in the world.
Photos and videos from the area showed crowds of people fleeing and running for cover.
Today I experienced something that I never thought I wouldâ€™ve experienced in my life. A shooting scare. People thought Times Square was getting shot up, and with everything thatâ€™s happening and has happened in Gilroy, El Paso, and Dayton â€” pic.twitter.com/7r8u8UML9u— Omar (@tall_omes1) August 7, 2019
Surveillance footage from the Junior's Cheesecake restaurant showed diners diving for cover, toppling chairs and tables, and hiding behind booths.
The New York Police Department tweeted that there was no active shooter in the area, and that the sound of gunshots was merely passing motorcycles.
"We are recieving [sic] multiple 911 calls. Please don't panic," the NYPD tweeted. "The Times Square area is very safe!"
All false alarms
In a shopping mall in West Valley City, Utah, the crashing sound of a sign falling down startled shoppers, who ran for cover and hid inside stores before realising it was a false alarm.
Today on @ABC4GMU...A loud bang causes a small panic in West Valley City. A sign fell during a musical performance at Valley Fair Mall. When the sign hit the ground, some people thought the noise was a gunshot and started running into stores to take cover and hide. pic.twitter.com/ZuciL4mNhC— Brian Carlson (@briancarlsontv) August 7, 2019
"There is no danger. No one is hurt," the West Valley City Police Department tweeted.
Also on Tuesday, authorities evacuated a Walmart in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, after an altercation sparked rumors of gunshots. Though at least one man was seen with a gun, no shots were fired, CNN reported, citing a federal law-enforcement official.
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