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Authorities: Deadly New Year's Day crash intentional, likely not terrorism

Rochester Police say there is no known terrorism connection to Michael Avery, the deceased suspect in an intentional crash that killed two people outside an upstate N.Y. concert venue on New Years Day. Photo Courtesy of Rochester Police
Rochester Police say there is no known terrorism connection to Michael Avery, the deceased suspect in an intentional crash that killed two people outside an upstate N.Y. concert venue on New Years Day. Photo Courtesy of Rochester Police

Jan. 2 (UPI) -- Authorities say no evidence exists of a larger plot in a vehicle crash that killed three people, including a driver, who is suspected of an intentional act.

The crash caused a fireball outside a concert venue in Rochester, N.Y., on New Year's Day.

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The driver of the Ford Expedition, which slammed into a ride-share vehicle outside the Kodak Theater, killing two people, was himself killed in the crash.

Authorities said there was no known connection to terrorism.

"So far we have uncovered no evidence of an ideology and nexus to terrorism, either international or domestic," said Jeremy Bell, the head of the FBI's Rochester office.

Michael Avery, 35, of Syracuse, N.Y., reportedly had been carrying gas tanks in his vehicle when he crashed.

Authorities said they contacted Avery's family, who told them Avery had rented the Ford Expedition.

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"On Dec. 30, between 9 a.m. till about 6 p.m. Avery made about a half-dozen purchases of gasoline and gas containers from different locations from through the Monroe County and Ontario County areas," Rochester Police Chief David Smith told reporters.

Smith suggested the crash was the result of an intentional act.

According to Smith, Avery "sped up and crossed into the oncoming lane of traffic and appears to have intentionally been driving toward the pedestrian crossing."

At least nine pedestrians were injured, Smith said.

Smith said no suicide note was discovered during a search of Avery's hotel room.

"The conversations we have had with his family so far leads us to believe that Avery may have been suffering from possible undiagnosed mental health issues," Smith said.

Smith also said there was no evidence that he acted as part of a larger plot.

"We have not uncovered any information leading us to believe that the actions of Michael Avery on New Year's Eve were motivated by any form of political or social biases," Smith said.

Rochester police released images of Avery, which they described as "the suspect from the Ridge Road crash on New Year's Day," and told anyone with additional information on the crash to contact the Rochester Police Department.

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Rochester Mayor Malik Evans thanked law enforcement and said he would update the public with new information.

"I have been getting inundated with questions as to why this individual would choose No. 1 Rochester N.Y., why he would do this on a New Year's Day, why he would target concertgoers just trying to have a great time to bring in the new year, Evans said. "All of those are things that have been raised that we just don't have answers to yet.

Evans said the public should keep the victims in mind.

"These folks were going to see a Grateful Dead tribute band and they were expecting to ring in the new year and have a good time, but instead we have individuals are now going to be burying family members and we have people who have, now, life-altering injuries because of the choices this suspect made," Evans said.

According to Evans, off-duty Rochester police officers tried to administer aid to Avery.

Authorities said there was no known connection to terrorism.

"So far we have uncovered no evidence of an ideology and nexus to terrorism either international or domestic," said Jeremy Bell, the head of the FBI's Rochester office.

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