A woman said people were shouting “he’s got a gun” as they rushed into the AMC theater. Law enforcement says there were no shootings.
ORANGE PARK, Fla. – An Orange Park mother said she feared for her life and the lives of her children as a crowd rushed to the Orange Park AMC Theater shouting “he’s got a gun” on Saturday evening.
The Clay County Sheriff’s Office said there was a heavy police presence Saturday night due to “large groups of minors causing a disturbance inside the AMC theater.” The CCSO confirmed that there were no shootings either at the mall or at the theater.
They later reported that the mall and movie theater would be temporarily closed and parents should pick up their children.
At 10:30 p.m. Saturday, the sheriff’s office tweeted that the theater was reopening to adults and those under 18 would only be allowed with a parent or guardian.
Sarah Piscitello said she was at the AMC theater with her children when the incident happened.
“We promised them earlier that if they did yard work with us, we would take them to the movies later,” she said. “They were really excited to go and we bought them. [tickets] online beforehand,” she said.
She said they were standing in line waiting for employees to scan their tickets, when “some people started screaming and running,” she said.
She said people were shouting that someone had a gun outside near the queue.
“They were trying to rush into the theater and obviously the cinema workers were trying to keep the massive crowds from entering the theater,” she said.
Because they had tickets, Piscitello, her husband and their children were able to enter the room in which their film was located.
“All I could think was there was nowhere to hide here,” she said. “Can I get behind the counter? Can I protect my children with my body? It was just terrifying.”
His family was able to exit through an exit door from the theater, get into their car and leave.
Piscitello grew up in Orange Park and said she’s been to the mall all her life. She said she brought her prom dress there and even celebrated her birthday there in June.
She said it was the first time she felt unsafe since she was five.
“I never felt unsafe there, but there were always reports. And so we usually try to avoid it, you know, after dark, but we didn’t really think that there would be a problem and there were already the police there. So, we were like “oh, you know, it’s going to be fine. There’s the police here. ‘We didn’t really think about that,’ she said.
Piscitello and his kids ended up enjoying movie night at home.
“All I could think of was protecting my children and I’m really sad that this is the world they are growing up in and these are the things they have to learn to be aware of,” she said.
First Coast News has contacted the mall and AMC about the incident and we are awaiting a response.