No shooting but panic at Lake Eola fireworks show, police say

Upset spectators fled downtown Orlando’s fireworks show Monday night but police said there was no evidence of a shooting and “no public safety hazard.”

The Orlando Police Department said on Twitter that it suspects that noise from the fireworks confused some spectators, causing them to run.

Videos posted on Twitter showed people running down Rosalind Avenue, which fronts Lake Eola Park, where the annual fireworks show was held, as well as from the park in other directions.

A mass shooting at a Chicago suburb Fourth of July parade earlier Monday that left six dead likely contributed to spectators’ unease in Orlando. Two police officers also were shot in Philadelphia at a July 4th celebration in that city Monday night.

In Orlando, some abandoned chairs and blankets as they fled the city’s 45th annual Fireworks at the Fountain celebration. The panic started while the fireworks show was underway, spectators said.

Orlando Police say a noise during the fireworks show at Lake Eola confused some spectators, causing a panic reaction at the city's fireworks show July 4, 2022.

Brenda Jules was watching the fireworks with her four small children when the chaos began. She lost sight of her 7-year-old son, though they were reunited at a first aid station at Rosalind Avenue and Robinson Street.

Jules was sobbing and unable to speak. Her son said he ran, abandoning a Sprite soda and a cupcake. At the first aid station, he had a sneaker on his right foot but his left foot was bare.

On Twitter, another mother shared her terror. “I am here leaving the parking garage and just ran for my life with my 2 small children!! I am pretty sure something happened,” she wrote.

WKMG-Channel 6 was broadcasting the event live. Anchors Ginger Gadsden and Lisa Bell said they fled their position after being told about the crowd panicking. The broadcast lost sound and then went to a static shot of fireworks, as station employees ran for safety.

The two anchors ducked into the station’s production truck, they said. Before knowing otherwise, both said later on air that they had feared it had been a shooting that caused the panic.

“We are so traumatized as a country, and certainly our community. It was just six years ago that we lost 49 people just blocks from here in a horrible shooting,” Bell said. “So when you see thousands upon thousands of people literally running for their lives, scared that they are about to be gunned down in the middle of downtown Orlando, it’s only natural that you also get scared.”

Orlando Police say a noise during the fireworks show at Lake Eola confused some spectators, causing a panic reaction at the city's fireworks show July 4, 2022.

The Police Department said on Twitter it had no reports of serious injuries. “Only minor injuries suffered by some spectators who fell during the commotion,” it wrote.

“This is so disturbing! So many people so on edge. This isn’t right,” one woman tweeted in response to the police department’s message.

Deanna Bland said when the chaos broke out “they were trampling people.”

Breaking News

Breaking News

As it happens

Be the first to know with email alerts on important breaking stories from the Orlando Sentinel newsroom.

Her 13-year-old son grabbed her four-year-old daughter. Bland, a tourist from Ohio, pushed a stroller with her one-year-old daughter. They were separated and Bland was speaking with police to help get reunited with her children.

The Police Department said families who got split up should meet at the corner of Rosalind and Robinson.

An Orange County Sheriff’s Office SUV with lights flashing was driving down Central Boulevard broadcasting that message: “If you are missing any children go to Rosalind and Robinson.”

Shortly after 11 p.m., the police department tweeted that residents who had abandoned items in the park were free to retrieve them. “Our officers remain in the area to ensure you can do so safely. We have also set up a Lost and Found Area at Rosalind Ave. & E. Robinson St.”

A tourist from Morocco was watching the fireworks with her family when a woman ran by yelling, “Just run, just run, just run.” The Moroccan woman and others in her group first hid behind some hedges, then also ran.

“This is the first time I’ve seen fireworks like this,” she said. “And then it was crazy.”

This is a developing story. Check back later for updates.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.