The sound of popping balloons as part of an inspection ahead of the opening of Joey Fatone’s new food stand prompted shoppers to frantically flee an Orlando mall, injuring nine.
Orange County Sheriff's Officials spokeswoman Deputy Rose Silva tells news outlets there was no gunman at the Florida Mall, and the loud sounds that scared shoppers were actually from six large balloons being popped as part of an industry-standard inspection for the grand opening of the former 'NSync singer’s new eatery.
Deputies say an announcement was made on the PA system informing shoppers and employees that the test was about to be conducted, but the loud noises still caused people to run. According to local news reports, and alarm went off immediately after the popping soundsm which caused shoppers to panic further.
Orange County Fire and Rescue officials say nine people were treated at the scene, including four who were hospitalized for minor injuries.
“People were bumping into things, getting stepped on, falling, children getting dragged by their arms,” shopper Mark Comer told local news station WFTV.
According to Fox 35 Orlando, Fatone’s kiosk, Fat One, is set to open on Sept. 10. The ex-boy bander is set to attend the grand opening.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.