Miami Active Shooter Hoax Caused Panic and Massive Police Response

Miami Active Shooter Hoax Caused Panic and Massive Police Response

It was a sobering event for shoppers on Saturday evening at the Dolphin Mall in Miami, Florida. Gunfire was reportedly heard and 9-1-1 calls were made claiming an active shooter was making his way through the property, firing a rifle at shoppers.

Image shared via social media during the panic.

Image shared via social media during the panic.

The calls prompted police and fire personnel to swarm the property with lights and sirens. Officers evacuated the building at gunpoint, instructing patrons to exit with their hands in the air.

There was just one problem — the reports were all completely false. There was no gunman and not a single shot had been fired.

From the Miami Herald:

Their fears were genuine. The shooting and the gunman weren’t. About two hours after the first report of gunfire inside the Dolphin Mall at 9:07 p.m., Sweetwater Mayor Orlando Lopez told reporters that police had declared the story the mother of all false alarms.

“Nothing that these people are saying is the truth,” said Lopez, in whose tiny West Miami-Dade city the mall is located. “There’s no attacker here, much less any wounded.”

And that photo? Genuine enough — but what it showed was a safety drill inside the mall several years back.

Yet the announcements of the mayor and Miami-Dade police that the mall was safe did nothing to calm the scene, either on the streets outside, which were still jammed with the vehicles of customers frantically trying to escape the imaginary slaughter, or on social media, which for hours echoed with tweets and retweets of a terrifying shootout.

More than a few threatened to escalate the situation. Friends of AlexisP305, the young man who reported hearing gunshots as he fled the mall, taunted him on Instagram for not standing his ground. “Stop being a b—— and start being a hero,” demanded one. Said another: “You GOTTA start exercising your 2nd amendment rights. Get you a few dope a— holsters & carry your s—-.”

Even as the mall prepared to reopen at 11 a.m. Sunday, some people were still unconvinced they’d had a foot or maybe more in the grave the night before. “What happen at dolphin mall had me shook...I could have gotten killed,” shuddered Twitter’s Uma. Added Monica_Lauren13: “Regardless of whether or not there was a shooter, being at Dolphin Mall tonight was terrifying between everyone running & just general panic.”

The incident paints an interesting picture of how the public at large responds to threats of violence. It demonstrates just how helpless the average person is — terrified and unable nor willing to do anything about it.

Had this been a real active shooter event, there would've almost certainly been casualties as the gunman made his way through the target-rich environment, confident that the only people that could stop him would arrive in seconds at best and minutes at worst.

Instead, the Herald demeans a comment suggesting citizens get armed for their protection (albeit with colorful language) as "[threatening] to escalate."

Situations like the 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooting demonstrate the vulnerability of an unarmed populace, overly reliant on police and unable to effectively respond to active threats. 

It's interesting to note that Florida is a shall-issue state, that is, any person that can legally own a firearm must be issued a concealed-carry permit if he or she were to apply for one. Sadly, not everyone sees the need until it's too late. Will this incident be treated as a lesson learned?

Stay alert. Stay alive.

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