During a performance of ‘Hamilton’ over the weekend in San Francisco, theatregoers fled the venue in panic after believing there was an active shooter in the crowd.
The chaos ensued after a member of the audience fell to the ground just as fake gunshots rang through the Orpheum Theatre as a part of the show. According to CBS News, the woman is believed to have suffered from a heart attack. A CBS reporter and member of the crowd said she heard someone yell “gun,” which led people to run out of the theatre.
While the woman was having a medical emergency, another person pulled the fire alarm, inciting more panic. As people tried to escape the room, three people were injured, police said. SF Gate reported that one person suffered a broken leg and none of the injuries were life threatening, while NBC Bay Area noted a boy suffered a seizure and another person sustained a head injury.
The San Francisco Fire Department explained that the woman who initially collapsed in the audience had “a return of pulses with CPR and paramedic and remains in critical condition” as of Saturday.
Police Captain Renee Pagaon told NBC Bay Area there was no one with a gun and no shots were fired. A spokesperson for the San Francisco Police said the panic was caused from members of the audience inaccurately linking the medical emergency to gunshots.
Following the incident, SHN Broadway tweeted that once an audience member activated the theatre’s fire pull station, the audience and cast followed an announcement to exit the venue. However, fans noted that no announcement had been made during the chaos, resulting to theatregoers crawling on the floor to the exit or jumping into police patrol cars out of fear.
During a medical event at the SHN Orpheum Theatre this evening an audience member activated the theater’s fire pull station. The audience and cast followed the life/safety system’s automatic announcement and exited the theater.
— SHN: Broadway in San Francisco (@shnsf) February 16, 2019
Some audience members shared their experience:
I heard no automatic announcement and there was only chaos. Being in the orchestra second row we could not get out so hunkered down. I have abrasions on my knee and elbow. Phones and shoes were strewn around. When will we see the full show?
— Kay Grosvenor (@kaleycaro) February 16, 2019
I was in the balcony with my 6 and 9 year old. There was absolutely NO announcement. There was mass chaos and absolutely no support and direction from SHN staff. Extremely disappointed in how the event was handled.
— Laura Lasnier (@LLasnier) February 16, 2019
No announcement once so ever. It took us an hour to reconnect with our family. We made friends and all hid in a mexican restaurant. The lady we were with forgot her purse in the chaos and couldn’t connect with her husband or son. we all thought it was a live shooter.
— heidi r kling (@HeidiRKling) February 16, 2019
BS! We were lying on the floor, crawing to exits. No idea of what was happening.
An announcement would have helped tremendously. We heard nothing other than screaming.
— DannyEverettStewart (@DannyEstewART) February 16, 2019
This is not exactly what happened. You need to review your emergency protocols. Audience members trampled, one broken ankle and staff did not react quickly.
— Stephen Andrew (@Stephen_Andrew) February 16, 2019
That is not true. We were at the Mezzanine and when the actors ran out of stage and all the screaming was going on we started fleeing too. The few staff we encountered in the hall were screaming: “get out. Put your head down and run”. I fell on the stairs and I’m still in pain.
— Ana Golubovski (@AnaGolubovski) February 16, 2019
SHN released a statement noting that the producers of Hamilton and SHN are reviewing the events and patrons who attended the show will be contacted and invited to return to Orpheum Theatre to view another showing of the play.