NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – Three moviegoers were injured as panicked patrons fled a screening of “The Gift” in Newport Beach after someone opened an emergency exit door and began to shout while starting a loud, handheld machine, police said Monday.
Authorities received multiple 911 calls about a disturbance at the Edwards Big Newport 6 movie theater complex in the 300 block of Newport Center Drive beginning about 10:51 p.m. Saturday, the Newport Beach Police Department stated in a news release.
The callers reported that at least two men had entered a theater with a loud, handheld machine, KTLA reported.
Investigators later determined the machine was a leaf blower and the men had arranged to open an emergency exit door at the front of one of the theaters during a showing of “The Gift.”
One of the men entered through the door and held a leaf blower over his head. “The suspect yelled, shook the leaf blower, and revved the leaf blower’s engine to create a loud and disturbing noise,” the news release read.
Moviegoers began rushing for the exits, and in their haste to get out of the theater, three people were left with what authorities described as minor injuries.
The men involved in the scare also fled the theater, using the same emergency exit door they had opened, police said. Investigators believe two or three, white or Hispanic men, ranging from their late teens to early 30s, were involved.
They “entered the theater with the intention of scaring moviegoers,” the news release stated.
Anyone with information was asked to contact Detective Joshua Vincelet at 949-644-3779 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Those who wish to remain anonymous can contact the tip hotline at 1-800-550-NBPD.