Motorcycle backfire causes mass panic in Times Square

A motorcycle backfiring in New York's Times Square on Tuesday night sent crowds running for fear in the wake of two deadly mass shootings in the US.

Video footage on social media shows a mass of people scrambling to safety after the loud noise of a motorcycle passing by sparked fears of an active shooter.

NYPD Midtown North on Twitter said the passing vehicles ''sounded like gunshots'' and that the area was safe.

"Motorcycles backfiring while passing through sounded like gunshots. We are receiving multiple 911 calls. Please don't panic. The Times Square area is very safe!"

The heightened tensions come after nine people and the suspect were killed in Dayton, Ohio on Sunday, August 4 and in El Paso, Texas were 22 people were killed at a Walmart store on Saturday, August 3 before the gunman was taken alive.