Crowds across the US mistake fireworks for gunshots on July 4th

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Scenes of chaos unfolded at Fourth of July celebrations in several cities across the country as the booming sounds of firecrackers were apparently mistaken for gunshots and dozens of revelers fled for cover.

Crowds panicked and ran from loud noises in Orlando, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and Washington, suggesting a nation remained after a recent spate of high-profile mass shootings, including one Monday morning in Highland Park, Illinois, in which six people nervous was dead.

“It is devastating that a celebration of America has been torn apart by our uniquely American plague,” Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker (D) said Monday. “…While we only celebrate the Fourth of July once a year, mass shootings have become our weekly — yes weekly — American tradition.”

The bloodshed in the Chicago suburb of about 30,000 people shook Fourth of July celebrations, a high point of summer in many Midwestern cities. The aftermath of the Highland Park parade wasn’t candy wrappers and loose streamers, but puddles of blood and abandoned walkers after residents fled the scene and spent hours sheltering as a manhunt unfolded in the area.

Several people were killed and injured in a shootout at the Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois on July 4th. (Video: The Washington Post)

As gunshots erupt in suburban Chicago, ‘nowhere is safe’

In other cities were Americans on high alert in public places, sensitive to loud noises and quick to disperse.

At a fireworks show in downtown Orlando, people fled as loud bangs reverberated through the area, and some spectators sustained minor injuries during the excitement, police said said. In the chaos that ensued, some people jumped into a nearby lake, an eyewitness told a local news station. Authorities said there was no firing and the confusion was likely caused by the sound of firecrackers.

In Harrisburg, the sound of firecrackers being thrown on the ground was likely the cause of panic among hundreds of people just before the main fireworks show, police told ABC News’ local affiliate. Authorities also said there was no shooting there. “The fact that you have to be prepared for a mass shooting at any moment is proof that a country is rotten to the core,” says one local resident wrote on twitter.

In the district, two loud noises near 11th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW prompted nearby people to hurry and flee toward the National Mall. Local authorities confirmed the noise was fireworks and said the noise likely set off the alarm.

Gunshots were heard in Philadelphia just before 10 p.m. amid fireworks near downtown. Videos circulating on social media show people running away and trying to get past security barriers as fireworks go off in the background.

Two police officers were shot dead but released after treatment at a hospital, according to Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw. She said law enforcement was investigating leads but no arrests had been made.

Caroline Pineda contributed to this report. Crowds across the US mistake fireworks for gunshots on July 4th

James Brien

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