A panic caused by a mistaken belief that a gun had been fired during a pride parade in the nation’s capital sent people running through the city’s streets, authorities said. Police said some who fled had minor injuries and seven were taken to hospitals.
“As the officers were going to the scene, there was a crowd of people going away from it and some of the individuals in the crowd said there was a man with a gun and that someone had fired a shot,” said Guillermo Rivera, a commander with the Metropolitan Police Department.
The man was taken into custody and is facing a gun possession charge, Rivera said.
City officials said no shots were fired Saturday evening.
“There is NO Active Shooter at Dupont Circle. There are injuries from people running from what they thought were gunshots. But there is NO ACTIVE SHOOTER at Dupont Circle,” Kevin Donahue, the deputy mayor for public safety, said in a tweet posted shortly after the incident.
Mayor Muriel Bowser tweeted that she had been briefed by police and there were “no shots fired.” She said fire department personnel were “on the scene to treat minor injuries / due to reports of a shooting.”
Elizabeth Hernandez, 19, was among the thousands celebrating LGBTQ pride in the city when she said she heard “pop, pop” and suddenly barricades were being tossed over and a crowd of people starting running frantically from the area.
“Everything fell and everyone said ‘run!,'” said Hernandez, of Falls Church, Virginia. She ran down the block and was pushed into a restaurant, where she went into a bathroom with a group of fellow revelers.
Ashley Smith, the president of Capital Pride Alliance, which puts on the event, said he saw people running toward him from Dupont Circle.
“We cannot allow this incident, until we know all the facts of it, we cannot allow this incident to ruin the pride celebration going on this weekend,” Smith said. “We’re very focused on wanting to make sure we continue to have a great event for the rest of the weekend.” He said the group spends extensive time planning security procedures.
Rivera said police felt they had an “adequate amount of resources on the ground, which is why we were able to respond so quickly.”