Orange County sees 3rd shooting scare in 3 weeks; bad actors capitalize on fear, police say

Bad actors ‘create panic in a situation,’ Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings says

Orange County saw its third shooting scare in as many weeks at a theme park on Saturday and local government and law enforcement officials suspect bad actors are seeking to scare people.

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County saw its third shooting scare in as many weeks at a theme park on Saturday and local government and law enforcement officials suspect bad actors are seeking to scare people.

Inside the parking garage at Universal Orlando, people told News 6 they were terrified and evacuated when they thought they heard gunshots. Orlando police said it was just teens fighting and there were no shots or guns involved.

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That’s just the latest in a series of gun scares the county has experienced.

Just hours earlier, at the Florida Mall, a crowd of people suddenly started running and hiding, not because of fireworks, as deputies originally suspected, but because a man had fallen inside the Crayola Experience and started yelling, even threatening to shoot the bystanders who came over to help, investigators said on Monday.

Deputies are now investigating if charges against that man are appropriate.

Earlier this month, at Lake Eola on July 4, there was another scare involving someone setting off amateur fireworks during the Fireworks at the Fountain show.

Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolón said he suspected the person who set off those amateur fireworks was purposely trying to scare people, even though no one has been identified or detained.

“I think we need to dive into, in the future, dive into how it is that some individuals are capitalizing on the state of mind to create situations that will set people off and panic to scare people,” Rolón said. “That’s my personal opinion, but again as you said earlier, can we prove or disprove that? No, we can’t.”

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said in some cases bad actors are trying to “create panic in a situation.”

Demings said the answer is twofold.

“You have to have visible security in the area to reassure people,” Demings said. “And each one of us has to be an active participant in the process and not a passive participant.”

Rolón said surveillance cameras are part of the answer—to add more eyes and monitor more situations—but more law enforcement is not.

“We wish we could have an officer at every three feet in any given area but that’s just not feasible,” Rolón said. “Our community plays that role of the police when it comes to that.”

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About the Author:

Erik von Ancken anchors and reports for WKMG-TV News 6 (CBS) in Orlando and is a two-time Emmy award-winning journalist in the prestigious and coveted "On-Camera Talent" categories for both anchoring and reporting. Erik joined the News 6 News Team in 2003 days after the tragic loss of space shuttle Columbia.