A building security announcement at 11:56 a.m. first alerted our newsroom that a speeding vehicle had struck pedestrians on the sidewalk in front of our Times Square bureau at 42nd Street and Seventh Avenue in New York City.
Reuters needed to mobilize. Fast.
Several seconds after the driver crashed his car three blocks away, Reuters had an alert on the wire, photographers and camera crews capturing the chaotic scene, and reporters gathering eyewitness accounts of an event that would leave one dead and 22 injured in one of the world’s busiest tourist thoroughfares.
The immediate challenge for editors was deploying staff rapidly and safely in an environment where authorities were trying to secure a scene, and it wasn’t clear exactly what the dangers were. Photographers and reporters had to make sure they could provide full context to build a reliable narrative, in words and pictures.
Reuters photographer Mike Segar, who heard the sound of the car crash as he walked out of the building, was one of the first photographers on the scene. He sprinted through throngs of panicked tourists and workers to capture the image of the suspect’s burning car on the northwest corner of 45th street and Seventh Avenue.
He had an iconic image, but Segar also wanted photos that portrayed the extent of the damage. As he took photographs of victims lying on the sidewalks between 42nd and 45th streets, he suddenly heard someone yelling: “They are going to close the building. Get off the street,” Segar recalls.
Narrowly avoiding getting locked out, the photographer returned to the office to transmit his pictures as quickly as possible. While he moved his photographs to media clients around the globe from his desk, his colleagues continued to capture the events on the street from different vantage points.
Reuters mounted its cameras for a live feed from Times Square and also offered video footage from building security cameras to our media customers. A reporter went to a police precinct 10 blocks away, where he was able to photograph the suspect in custody. Meanwhile, a team of reporters confirmed that the incident wasn’t an act of terror and worked to gather eyewitness accounts at local hospitals and on the street.
After transmitting his best photos, Segar ran up to the 22nd floor, where he knew there was a balcony and a clear view of Times Square, with editor-in-chief Stephen Adler by his side.
“He literally held me by my belt as I leaned over the railing,” Segar recalled. “In a situation like this, the whole idea is to shoot everything you see as fast as possible – and from as many angles as you can.”