‘What was going on there?’ Orlando police release new video, seek info after chaos erupts at Lake Eola

Fourth of July celebration turns into scramble as parkgoers seek safety

Orlando police are trying to figure out what caused the scare that sent fireworks watchers running.

ORLANDO, Fla. – 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.

Police are looking for information to determine what led to the mass panic during the scare at the Fourth of July celebration.

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Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon showed video recorded from the Lake Eola pedestrian bridge of the first moments that people began running. Rolon said the department is focusing its investigation in the area of Central Boulevard just east of Rosalind Avenue.

“This is where we believe the chain of reaction started, where someone started running or people started running, which eventually led to others doing the same,” he said.

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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.

Rolon said anyone who was in the area who may have taken video or saw something is asked to contact the department to help “pinpoint what led to the people moving away, running away from the area.”

While playing the video, Rolon pointed out two individuals wearing hoodies and jogging through the crowd shortly before people began to run. He said the two joggers may have been a coincidence, but they’d like to find out.

“And regarding the two individuals who were seen sort of jogging away from the area. We’re curious, you know, what was going on there? Were they related or was it something that by coincidence happened to be two people running away from, or jogging away from, the area, right before people started running,” he said.

The police chief said at the same time the fireworks show at Lake Eola was happening, there were also fireworks going off behind buildings on Pine Street.

“Did that have anything to do with the reason why someone began to run when those fireworks were going off versus the fireworks at Lake Eola? We don’t know,” he said.

Rolon said the fireworks show had the “added component” of taking place hours after a deadly shooting at a Fourth of July parade in a Chicago-suburb.

“That put everyone on edge. I would venture to say that the people who attended our event were in a totally different mindset compared to those who attended other events the night before,” he said. “So with that said, it is the reality that, unfortunately when something like this happens, it does place some fear on our citizens whenever they experience or hear about an experience like this elsewhere in the country.”

At least 12 people were injured while running from the scare, which police said may have been caused by firecrackers or some other type of firework thrown into the crowd just after the main fireworks show began at 9:45 p.m.

“We saw people running and everyone just started running. I don’t know. It was scary,” a man told News 6 anchor Matt Austin as the fireworks show continued.

Some witnesses said they heard what they believed were gunshots, however, police said there was no evidence of a shooting.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, who was not at Monday night’s event, released a statement Tuesday:

“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.”

Anyone who was in the area of Central Boulevard and Rosalind Avenue is asked to call 321-235-5300 or Crimeline at 800-8477. If you have any video you would like to submit to the police department, click here to visit their portal specifically for Lake Eola.

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About the Author:

Brenda Argueta is a digital journalist who joined ClickOrlando.com in March 2021. She graduated from UCF and returned to Central Florida after working in Colorado.