Fourth of July parades and fireworks were interrupted in at least five U.S. cities by crowds fleeing what they thought were mass shooters on Monday. But only two of the incidents involved firearms, while the other three were misunderstandings that sent people running for their lives in a country overflowing with anxiety and drowning in guns.
The danger was very real in some of those cities, like Highland Park, Illinois, where seven people were killed and at least 36 were injured in a mass shooting, despite the area being surrounded by police officers. A person of interest, identified as 22-year-old Robert E. Crimo III, has been arrested in connection to that shooting and no motive has been established yet.
And the panic was also well-warranted in Philadelphia, where two police officers were reportedly injured by gunfire during a concert and fireworks display. The news of the shootings sent the crowd into a frenzy trying to get out of the area. No suspects have been arrested yet in that case and it’s not clear the gunfire was even “intentional” according to CNN. Firing guns into the air is a Fourth of July tradition for some people and there’s speculation the cops were injured by “ricochet from celebratory gunfire.”
But other cities, like Orlando, Florida, experienced the panic of a mass shooting without the actual shooting. Crowds had gathered for fireworks at Eola Lake in Orlando, Florida on Monday evening before scattering in all directions. The crowd apparently heard nearby firecrackers and believed it was gunshots around 9:45 p.m. local time. Twelve people were injured in the stampede, according to Click Orlando.
Crowds also started running in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on Monday night at about 9:30 p.m. after people believed a mass shooting was in progress. Video posted to Twitter shows people fleeing the area. In reality, it was just more firecrackers.
“So me and my friend and his girlfriend were like ordering food over there at one of the burger spots. And next thing you know, we hear somebody yell gun and it was like a whole like at least 200 people run up that way run up Front Street,” one witness told local TV station ABC27.
There was also an incident near the National Mall in Washington, D.C. following the big fireworks display there. Someone in the area started setting off firecrackers, leading people to believe it was another mass shooting.
Readers can click through to see images and video from the incidents on Monday, though viewer discretion is advised. Some of the photos from Highland Park include blood in the aftermath of that attack.