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Suspect identified in tragic New Year’s crash near Rochester’s Kodak center

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In a press conference held on Tuesday, Rochester Police Chief David Smith revealed that the individual responsible for the fatal New Year’s crash near Kodak Center has been identified as Michael Avery, a 35-year-old resident of Syracuse. Authorities believe Avery died from injuries sustained in the incident.

According to Chief Smith, the investigation unveiled that Avery had traveled to Rochester on December 27, checked into WoodSpring Suites in the town of Greece, and rented a Ford Expedition from Rochester Airport on December 29. On December 30, Avery reportedly purchased multiple gas containers and gasoline from various locations in Monroe County.

On the early morning of January 1, around 1 a.m., Avery was driving the rented SUV on West Ridge Road near the Kodak Center. Despite traffic being halted by two Rochester police officers for concertgoers, Avery accelerated, crossed into oncoming traffic, and allegedly intentionally headed towards the pedestrian crossing.

The collision occurred when Avery struck a rideshare vehicle leaving the venue’s parking lot, resulting in the deaths of the two passengers in the back seat and the subsequent explosion of the Ford Expedition, claiming Avery’s life. At least nine pedestrians suffered injuries in the crash.

Rochester Mayor Malik Evans expressed sorrow, stating, “Instead, we now have individuals who are going to be burying family members and people with life-altering injuries because of the choices that this suspect made.”

A search of Avery’s hotel room and personal vehicle at Rochester Airport yielded no evidence of motive, though conversations with his family suggest he may have been struggling with an undiagnosed mental health issue. Chief Smith clarified that there is no indication of others being involved or any larger plot, ruling out political or social motivations.

The investigation is ongoing, and authorities encourage anyone with information to contact the RPD’s Major Crimes Unit.

The tragedy unfolded during the early hours of New Year’s Day, with a Ford Expedition colliding with a Mitsubishi Outlander on West Ridge Road as concertgoers were leaving the Kodak Center. The FBI is assisting in the investigation, and the Rochester community mourns the loss of two lives and multiple injuries.

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