Panic at Bayside: Crowd flees after hearing noise that sounded like gunfire

The Miami Police Department evacuated Bayside on Monday night after reports of a shooting.
The Miami Police Department evacuated Bayside on Monday night after reports of a shooting.

A Fourth of July celebration at Bayside Marketplace turned into pure panic late Monday night as thousands of revelers climbed over and ran through each other heading for exits after hearing a loud noise that sounded like gunfire.

But it’s not clear if any weapon was actually fired.

The noise came shortly after the annual fireworks display near Bayside ended around 9:45 p.m. At the same time, clouds were gathering and giant thunderclaps were reverberating. And, after all, it was Miami on July 4, a day when knuckleheads aren’t averse to tossing around a firecracker or two just for kicks.

“People do mistake gunfire with fireworks, so we’re not really sure,” Miami Police Detective Freddie Burden said.

No one was shot. Injuries were limited to cuts and scrapes from people being knocked down as they ran from the open-air tourist attraction along the bay toward Biscayne Boulevard.

One woman was so frightened, she ditched her two kids and dove into the water. She was recovered unharmed and reunited with her kids.

Police did detain and question one man who had a gun but eventually let him go. Despite a massive and quick police response, the shooter — if there was one — was not found.

And though police brushed off suggestions that the panic was stoked by earlier mass shootings, it has been only three weeks since Omar Mateen shot and killed 49 people at an Orlando nightclub in the country’s worst mass killing in memory.

Police did their best to keep the public updated through social media even as people continued to flee the marketplace well into the evening Monday.

Just before 11 p.m., Miami police tweeted that “shots were fired w/NO gunshot injuries as of now,” and that they had a subject detained. Just over a half hour later the department tweeted that shots fired outside Bayside and the fireworks “caused patrons to run.” They said the area had been cleared.

Then, three minutes later, Miami police said they had released the man with the weapon and reunited the kids with their wet mom.