Deputies: No weapons found after pop sounds cause panic at Carowinds

Incident causes panic at Carowinds

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Multiple people reported the sound of purported explosions at a dining hall inside Carowinds theme park during 4th of July activities Monday.

The York County Sheriff's Office said Tuesday that no weapons were found after the reports.

"There was a group of teenagers causing a disturbance in Harmony Hall picking up tables and benches slamming them on the ground, that's it" deputies said. A short time later deputies released a statement saying, "After further review and looking into this 'disturbance' at Carowinds – NO tables were banged on the floor in Harmony Hall. Only a bench fell over."

People on social media spoke out about Monday's scare, along with frantic calls to the WBTV newsroom. They said a large number of people went into the park's Harmony Hall around 9 p.m. when the incident happened.

York County deputies say they received "false calls" for shots fired inside the park. "There was ZERO credible evidence of shots fired or any weapons found inside the park," the York County Sheriff's Office said in a release.

One viewer said many of the people went to the back of the hall and then about 30 seconds later, there were three loud "pops." He said people were jumping onto the floor, parents were covering their children and people started running towards the doors of the hall.

"The aftermath around it was really frightening," a teenage girl told WBTV. "I had to help a little girl find her parents. And bring her to a security guard and so many kids were separated from their parents because of all the commotion and honestly it was so sad to see that."

One viewer said he grabbed his 3-year-old son and ran out of the hall and out of the park, yelling at people along the way to turn around.

"I'll never get that image out of my head," he said. "I had to run past a 6-year-old girl holding her little brother and screaming for her mommy. But I had my son in my arms and I couldn't stop to help. That will stay with me forever."

Officials with Carowinds said there were some kids running through the park and "acting up." The scene was described as "silly kids being kids."

Carowinds officials said people were not evacuating and panicking, despite people's accounts online. Officials say no one was arrested in the incident and they believe the kids just left the park on their own. The park was running on normal operations, according to officials, for the entire night.

Around 1:40 a.m. Tuesday morning, Carowinds officials released a new statement to WBTV.

"At approximately 9 p.m. Monday evening, a group of teenagers caused a disruption inside of Harmony Hall. Park security and local law enforcement agencies immediately responded and were able to identify the teenagers involved," the statement read. "The individuals were eventually detained and released to the care of their parents. The safety and well-being of our guests and associates is our highest priority."

**EDITOR'S NOTE: WBTV is continuing to investigate this incident and digging for more answers about Monday night's incident.**

In addition, many people complained that they missed the park's fireworks show that was slated to start at 10 p.m., after the show started early Monday.

Officials say there was light rain coming down and they wanted to get the fireworks started before anything got worse.

Some park visitors drove for miles to spend Independence Day at the park.

"We don't get out to many places, so this was big for us," said Brian Lynn, who drove with more than a dozen family members from Lenoir.

Lynn said he was inside the Harmony Hall area when the large group of people ran through.

"People were trying to get out of there and they were scared, the fear was real," Lynn said.

Some of Lynn's family members were in another area of the park and later told him the same large crowd ran past them and security officers outside.

"We noticed a few security were saying stop, stop, they were pushing right past them, they didn't listen to security whatsoever," said Makaiah Lynn.

Brian Lynn told WBTV that by the time the patrons were focused on the large disturbance, they heard three 'distinct sounds'.

"When that took place, all of them at once just screamed and started running out and saying get out get out, shots," Lynn said.

WBTV asked Carowinds leaders if the park would pursue criminal charges against any of the teenagers or if video of the altercation was available for view.

A spokesperson did not immediately respond to the questions.

WBTV asked both the York County Sheriff's Office and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department for a copy of an incident report, but a spokesperson for each department said that there was no report.

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