‘Somebody does need to be in charge:’ Orlando commissioner reacts to Fourth of July chaos at Lake Eola

Commissioner Patty Sheehan questions communication amid the shooting scare

Orlando Commissioners Regina Hill and Patty Sheehan applauded the quick response of law enforcement as no serious injuries were reported from the resulting mass exodus of people.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Orlando City Commissioner Regina Hill said she had left the stage at Lake Eola’s bandshell on Monday night moments before she realized something was wrong.

“I saw people running from all directions, coming toward the bandshell and jumping in the lake,” she told News 6.

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She said she secured her grandson and his friend inside a bathroom for safety.

“I was afraid for my life, my grandchildren’s life, and once I gained my composure, I started thinking about our general public and the residents that were out there left in the elements not knowing what was going on and their safety,” Hill said.


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Hundreds of people started running during the fireworks show after hearing what some thought were gunshots.

“The only thing you could hear was fireworks. You didn’t know if it was gunshots or what was going on,” she said.

Orlando Commissioner Patty Sheehan also saw people running and said she thought, “Oh my gosh, what’s happening?”

Lake Eola is located in Sheehan’s district, and she said she is frustrated with how difficult it was for her to get information about what happened last night and on Tuesday.

She said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer was out of town and many city staff members were on vacation.

“Somebody does need to be in charge,” she said. “If the mayor is out of town, there does need to be someone to be the mouthpiece and speak on behalf of the mayor and speak on behalf of the city. We need to make sure that there’s information getting out to people and things like that.”


New video showing the moment chaos erupted at Lake Eola during the city’s fireworks show was released by the Orlando Police Department during a news conference Tuesday.

Fifteen hours after the incident, and after Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolón held his own news conference, the mayor’s office released a statement:

“It is unfortunate that what should have been a celebration of our nation, quickly turned the event from one of pride to panic. I want to thank the men and women of our Orlando Police Department for acting quickly and determining there was no actual shooting. I’d also like to thank our Orlando Fire Department and other city staff who helped calm the crowd, reunite families and recover left-behind belongings. As we continue to host large scale events in our city, we’ll certainly take last night’s lessons learned into consideration. Above all else, we remain committed to ensuring the safety of our residents and visitors.”

Commissioners Hill and Sheehan applauded the quick response of law enforcement as no serious injuries were reported from the resulting mass exodus of people.

“At that time, when there’s a crisis, they are trying to make sure that the residents are safe and that if there was a possible threat of an active shooter, they’re making sure that is taken care of,” Hill said.

Sheehan said she will be working with staff members to make sure changes are made to future large-scale city events if that is what is learned from Monday’s response.

About the Author:

Erik Sandoval joined the News 6 team as a reporter in May 2013 and became an Investigator in 2020. During his time at News 6, Erik has covered several major stories, including the 2016 Presidential campaign. He was also one of the first reporters live on the air at the Pulse Nightclub shooting.