By Erin Delmore
“Yeah, I heard like gun pop. Pop, pop, pop, pop,” said Elizabeth resident Quisy Greenleaf.
Panic at The Mills at Jersey Gardens mall after shoppers mistook a loud noise for gunfire.
“It’s always that one person that yells out, ‘They’re shooting, they shooting.’ That’s what somebody, some b***h, was yelling, ‘They shooting!’ so I was like, ‘oh, wow.'”
Mall-goers took to social media, streaming videos of the chaos and tweeting rumors of the shooting. But authorities later said it was only the sound of a chair hitting the ground during an altercation in the food court.
“Stupid, like we ran for no reason,” said Maria Lozada from Bayonne. “We did all this running for nothing. The poor old people I pushed.”
“That kind of fear spreads quicker than anything or anyone can really manage,” said Klive Oh, a social media expert.
Oh calls it the second wave of pandemonium.
“The people who started running away, now they have their cell phones out. They’re saying I have to get this and they’re getting actual footage. The police are ramming in and the police cars, police forces, officials with guns, they have footage and that goes on social media. So even before anyone can say, ‘Stop, wait a minute. Was it really a gun? How bad was it? Are people hurt?'” said Oh.
Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage confirmed on Twitter, “There was no shooting and no shots fired.” He reported around 10 people injured, none life-threatening, treated on the scene, then transferred to local hospitals. Rodrecus Flemming was working nearby. He’s originally from South Carolina.
“It’s chaotic. We don’t experience stuff like this at home,” he said.
But the whole country is on edge after similar incidents at malls in North Carolina, Colorado, Connecticut, Ohio, Illinois, Texas and New York and just days after a brawl broke out at Newport Centre mall in Jersey City.
Bayonne native Jennifer Grzegorzewski said, “I mean, we live so close to New York, too, so I mean, it’s the holidays. It’s the busiest time other than Black Friday and the night before Christmas that everybody goes and returns stuff, so I’m not surprised that something happened today. It just sucks that it happened now.”
The mall reopened this morning after hours spent evacuating thousands last night.