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What sparked the panic? Orlando police seek witnesses and videos from the Lake Eola fireworks event

Orlando Police Chief on Tuesday showed how the chain reaction of panic unfolded at Lake Eola Monday night. Image: OPD via Facebook

Orlando police are trying to determine what caused the crowd to flee in panic during Monday night’s Fourth of July fireworks display at Lake Eola.

At a press conference Tuesday, Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon said people were already on edge following a mass shooting in Illinois.

Rolon says a handful of people who were in the area of East Central Boulevard east of South Rosalind Avenue will know what started the panicked chain-reaction.

“We would love to talk to them,” he said. “Or we would love to get additional information from them. So that we can pinpoint what led to the people moving away from the area, running from the area, when whatever it was sparked them to do so.”

Someone had set off fireworks a block away on Pine Street, and Rolon wonders if that was the cause. And he says officers are “curious” about two people seen jogging through the crowd.

OPD is asking people with information to call at 1-800-423-TIPS. The department has set up a webpage  where people can upload cellphone videos.

There could be an innocent explanation for the panicked scene. But Rolon said: “If it was an intentional act, that someone purposely came out to Lake Eola last night to create this panic, obviously we’re going to look for anything that we can find on the books to potentially charge that person with.”

No shots were fired, but 12 people received minor injuries during the rush to escape.

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Joe Byrnes

About Joe Byrnes


Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.