ORLANDO — People ran out of The Florida Mall Thursday afternoon, August 25th in fear that a gunman had opened fire. It was a false alarm, but still — there were injuries.
A total of nine people were injured, and four of them were taken to the hospital.
Cell phone video shows people running in fear. Those who were there said some were even trampled trying to get away.
Vince Carr, his wife and five kids from Georgia were about to grab lunch inside The Florida Mall Thursday afternoon when it happened.
“The fire alarms went off and no one really paid attention to it, and then you heard the balloons. I guess they were balloons, ‘pop,’ and then someone yelled, ‘he’s got a gun!’ People just started running,” Carr said.
Carr said he was on the opposite side of the dining pavilion at the time and heard mall workers advise shoppers that there was no emergency.
“But the people in the back didn’t hear that, so people were getting trampled,” Carr said.
He said he saw his family hide under tables after the six pops.
Cell phone footage shows panicked people running through the building and out into the parking lot.
Deputies and ambulances soon surrounded the dining pavilion on one side of the mall, where officials and patrons quickly learned that there was no real threat and the sharp popping sounds came from balloons.
“They were shooken’ up a bit, but we laughed about it,” Carr said.
Orange County Fire Rescue officials said they were there for a fire suppression test inspection at former N’Sync singer Joey Fatone’s new restaurant, called Fat One’s Hot Dogs and Italian Ice. That’s when something in the device unexpectedly popped six balloons.
“It’s behind a black curtain, so you heard the noise, but you didn’t know where the noise came from,” Carr said.
Relieved that there was no real danger, the Carr family stayed to have lunch and took the kids to Build-a-Bear Workshop.
As for Joey Fatone’s new restaurant, it hasn’t officially opened yet.
Orange County Fire Rescue officials said despite the balloon pops, the restaurant passed inspection.