Police: Popped balloon led to false report of active shooter, evacuation at Boca mall

Author: CBSMiami Writer: Derrick Shaw
(CBS Miami)

A popped balloon is what led to an active shooter scare, massive evacuation, and hours of chaos at the Town Center Mall in Boca Raton on Sunday.

In a statement provided by the Boca Raton Police Department, surveillance video shows a janitor pushing a garbage cart through the food court. The garbage cart rolled over and dragged a balloon, which the janitor told police he simply popped.

The pieces of the balloon were recovered on the floor, said police.

The police statement says there appears to be a delay of a couple of minutes between when the janitor popped the balloon and when people are seen fleeing the area. Video footage shows people in the food court visibly react to a loud sound in the area. Other witnesses indicate that they heard a balloon pop.

The popped balloon led to erroneous reports of an active shooter, triggering an evacuation of shoppers and massive police response.

Police searched the mall extensively but found no evidence of a shooter or any weapons.

One man suffered a “traumatic injury to his head,” when he collided with a door while attempting to evacuate. The man was found in the parking lot near Bloomingdale’s. He spoke Creole and was drifting in and out of consciousness, so he was unable to provide any information about how he was hurt.

He was treated at a local hospital.

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