Sunday 18 August 2019

Seven people hospitalised after fears about 'gunman at gay pride event' sparked panicked scenes

Police keep watch at Dupont Circle at the conclusion of the Capitol Pride Parade in Washington, Saturday, June 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Police keep watch at Dupont Circle at the conclusion of the Capitol Pride Parade in Washington, Saturday, June 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Police keep watch at Dupont Circle at the conclusion of the Capitol Pride Parade in Washington, Saturday, June 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Michael Balsamo

Seven people have been taken to hospital after fears about a potential gunman at a gay pride event sparked panicked scenes.

Hundreds of people were gathered at the Dupont Circle in Washington DC for the parade when people started running after hearing what they thought was a gunshot.

Police said some of the people who ran sustained minor injuries and others transported to hospitals.

"As the officers were going to the scene, there was a crowd of people going away from it and some of the individuals in the crowd said there was a man with a gun and that someone had fired a shot," said Guillermo Rivera, a commander with the Metropolitan Police Department.

The man was taken into custody and is facing a gun possession charge, he said.

Kevin Donahue, the deputy mayor for public safety, tweeted there was "no active shooter" as the crowds dispersed.

Police keep watch at Dupont Circle at the conclusion of the Capitol Pride Parade in Washington, Saturday, June 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Police keep watch at Dupont Circle at the conclusion of the Capitol Pride Parade in Washington, Saturday, June 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

"There is NO Active Shooter at Dupont Circle. There are injuries from people running from what they thought were gunshots. But there is NO ACTIVE SHOOTER at Dupont Circle," he wrote.

Mayor Muriel Bowser tweeted that she had been briefed by police and there were "no shots fired."

She said fire department personnel were "on the scene to treat minor injuries / due to reports of a shooting".

Elizabeth Hernandez, 19, was among those celebrating LGBTQ pride in the city when she said she heard "pop, pop" and suddenly barricades were being tossed over and a crowd of people starting running frantically from the area.

"Everything fell and everyone said 'run!,'" said Hernandez, of Falls Church, Virginia.

She ran down the street and was pushed into a restaurant, where she went into a bathroom with a group of fellow revellers.

Ashley Smith, the president of Capital Pride Alliance, which puts on the event, said he saw people running toward him from Dupont Circle.

"We cannot allow this incident, until we know all the facts of it, we cannot allow this incident to ruin the pride celebration going on this weekend," he said.

"We're very focused on wanting to make sure we continue to have a great event for the rest of the weekend."

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