No evidence of terrorism following explosive New Year's Day vehicle collision in Rochester, New York, local police say

Police in New York State say there is no evidence of terrorism following an explosive and deadly vehicle collision.   

The crash occurred early on New Year's Day (local time) in the city of Rochester, a five-hour drive from New York City.  

Three people died after a man packed his car full of explosives and ploughed into an Uber.  

A fiery scene confronted emergency services when they arrived in the early hours of Monday morning, taking firefighters an hour to extinguish the flames.   

"All evidence points to the suspect as 35-year-old Michael Avery. The suspect passed away last night," Chief David Smith from the Rochester Police Department said.    

Photo from the scene (left) and Michael Avery (right)
Photo from the scene (left) and Michael Avery (right) Photo credit: Newshub / Rochester Police

It's believed Avery made the hour-long journey from his home in Syracuse, New York to Rochester in the days prior. He rented a motel room and a Ford Expedition SUV while CCTV footage shows him buying gasoline.   

"Avery made at least a half dozen purchases of gasoline and gas containers from different locations," Smith said.    

In the moments before the collision, the accused headed towards the Kodak Theatre in Rochester.   

As New Year's Eve concertgoers emerged, Avery sped up towards a pedestrian crossing.   

"At about the same time, a rideshare vehicle was pulling out of the theatre parking lot and was struck by Avery's Expedition," Smith said.   

Two people inside the rideshare taxi were killed, and nine others nearby were injured.  

Police identified the two people who died in the car crash as Joshua Orr, 29, and Justina Hughes, 28.
Police identified the two people who died in the car crash as Joshua Orr, 29, and Justina Hughes, 28. Photo credit: Family photo supplied to CNN

Initially, it was thought the crash could have been an act of terrorism but on Wednesday, that was ruled out.   

"We've uncovered no evidence of an ideology and on nexus to terrorism, international or domestic," Assistant Special Agent in Charge of FBI Buffalo Jeremy Bell said.   

Who is Michael Avery?

Police aren't revealing much, but say they have been speaking to his family since the crash.  

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

Police say they're investigating why Avery settled on Rochester.