‘People were jumping in the water’: Shooting causes panic at Orlando’s Lake Eola fireworks

ORLANDO, Florida. – A scare caused by apparent firecrackers thrown into crowds celebrating the 4th of July at the Lake Eola fountain fireworks in Orlando has caused park-goers to panic and race, some jumping into the water to seek a shelter.

Orlando police say about 12 people were injured as they fled the scare, which happened shortly after the fireworks began around 9:45 p.m. Monday.

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Some witnesses said they heard what they believed to be gunshots. Police, however, said there was no evidence of a shooting.

“Out of nowhere we saw people running and then we heard (what we thought was) gunfire. We heard it. It wasn’t lined up with the fireworks. They were obviously something else,” the witness said.

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“People were jumping in the water, people were running towards the buildings,” one woman said.

OPD Deputy Chief Eric Smith said the department does not believe there was an active shooter at the July 4 Lake Eola fireworks celebration, where crowds could be seen fleeing.

Orlando police later tweeted that there was no shooting or danger to public safety.

“We think it was fireworks that went off into the crowd at the same time as the main fireworks,” Deputy Chief Eric Smith told News 6. “It got people running. They believed there had been gunfire. Of course people started running with everything going on.

During the chaos, some families were separated. Police said a family gathering area had been created on North Rosalind Avenue and East Robinson Street.

Police say a lost and found area has been set up at the Lake Eola Parks office at North Eola Drive and East Washington Street.

The scare in Orlando came hours after six people were gunned down during a July 4 parade in suburban Chicago. A person of interest was subsequently arrested.

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OPD tweeted at 11:32 p.m. that all families in the family reunification center were able to be reunited.

Police said they believe the incident may have started near Pine Street or the bandstand, although the investigation is still in its early stages.

Smith added that police and firefighters are focused on finding and treating anyone who may have been injured during the panic.

Check back with News 6 for updates.

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