New York City

Fireworks Spark Active Shooter Fears, Panic at 2 NYC Malls

Police are looking into whether the two incidents are connected

NBC Universal, Inc.

Shoppers enjoying a Saturday afternoon at the mall were sent into a panic after loud pops sparked fears of an active shooter in the area.

That was the situation at not one, but two malls in New York City when police say fireworks were set off inside shopping centers in two different boroughs.

For many, the loud blasts triggered memories of recent mass shootings in Buffalo, Uvalde and Tulsa, where multiple people were gunned down in public places.

With three mass shootings in as many weeks, many Americans are joining the call to end gun violence across the nation. News Four's Adam Harding has the latest.

Fireworks set off panic at Kings Plaza Shopping Center in Brooklyn and the Mall at Bay Plaza in the Bronx, both within hours of each other on Saturday afternoon.

The incidents prompted evacuations until police ultimately deemed each a false alarm and found no active threat to shoppers.

"You have to walk around and looking behind like 'what's next,' it's scary," Barbara, a shopper out in Brooklyn, said.

Police said both incidents turned out to be fireworks set off inside the malls. The 911 calls came in as possible shots fired at each location, within 45 minutes of each other.

After evacuations, officers searched and cleared the malls to reopen. Investigators were looking into whether the events at each mall were linked in any way.

Police are still looking for whoever set off the fireworks.

"See, I have a baby with me, so imagine I was in there and I hear those fireworks," Lexie, of Crown Heights, said.

The new mother said recent and repeated mass shootings across the country have become too much, and she hopes the Saturday incident brings about change.

"We need security at these malls, not just people walking around but check points, your bag supposed to be checked," she said.

The weekend scare comes exactly one week after a similar panic at Barclays Center sent crowds running when rumors of a gunman spread inside the packed complex.

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