Panic erupts in Times Square when motorcycle backfiring causes false alarm

A motorcycle backfiring caused thousands to run in fear.

Thousands of people who were crowded into a packed Times Square fled in panic late Tuesday after a motorcycle backfired and caused fears over a possible active shooter. The response came just days after two mass shootings in Texas and Ohio killed 31 people.

The Crossroads of the World was packed with tourists and revelers at about 10 p.m. on a warm night in New York City, when a few passing motorcycles backfired and people thought they were hearing gunfire.

Video showed thousands of people running north on Broadway as they thought their lives were in danger.

The New York Police Department's Midtown North Precinct later tweeted the explanation about the backfiring.

Times Square is one of the most heavily protected areas in the country. Even on a normal day, a large presence of officers can be seen roaming the area.

"All of a sudden I heard this kind of muffled 'pop' and said, 'What was that?' and I looked over and there was a sea of people running," witness Dylan Probert told New York ABC station WABC.

The NYPD said it received multiple 911 calls about the incident.

Six people were taken to the hospital with minor injuries, according to the FDNY.

Shoppers at Disney's flagship store were herded into the back as a precaution, one shopper shared on Twitter.

A shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, on Saturday resulted in the deaths of 22 people and injuries to more than two dozen other shoppers. A man was taken into custody in the shooting. He told told police he was targeting Mexicans, law enforcement sources told ABC News.

Just about 14 hours later a man opened fire outside a bar in downtown Dayton, Ohio, killing nine people, including his sister. The suspect shooter was fatally killed by police, who were patrolling the area, in less than a minute.

Both shooters were using semi-automatic rifles.