Panic and confusion erupted in Central Park on Saturday night after a loud noise frightened concertgoers at the Global Citizen Festival, with some people erroneously attributing the sound to gunshots.
Witnesses described a near-stampede in some places, as people sprinted for cover, jumped fences and trampled one another. Some were in tears and called their loved ones, and others said they had lost items or gotten separated from their friends, according to social media reports.
But the police quickly refuted reports of a shooting, saying that the noise was from a fallen barrier, not gunshots.
A spokesman for the Fire Department said no injuries had been reported.
For many, the brief panic, which happened around 7:30 p.m., was an indication of the country’s mind-set at a time when mass shootings can happen anywhere — at schools, churches, nightclubs and concerts. Though there were no shots fired, the possibility of a shooting felt raw and real.
A concertgoer interviewed on MSNBC said: “All we saw was a mass of people running. Like a wave of people coming in this direction. My daughter’s screaming at me to run.”
“Nearly got trampled,” an executive producer at NBC tweeted. “Having to hold your wife in the middle of a field of running people who thought they were being shot at is not my favorite thing. Headed home.”
Global Citizen is a movement of citizens who want to use their voices to end extreme poverty by 2030. Janet Jackson, The Weeknd, Shawn Mendes, Cardi B and Janelle Monáe were among those who were expected to perform on the park’s Great Lawn.
The concert appeared to stop briefly amid the chaos. Chris Martin, the lead singer of Coldplay, tried to calm the crowd before handing the microphone to Kathleen O’Reilly, an assistant chief with the Police Department.
“Everybody relax, calm down,” Chief O’Reilly said. “It was a barrier collapse. There was no shots fired. Hopefully the show is going to go on. We just have to reassess the situation and try and create a new safety lane. We’re going to have to try our best.”
The organization tweeted on Saturday night that “everyone is safe.”
The show was back on, and Janet Jackson took the stage.
Jason M. Bailey contributed reporting
Follow Sarah Mervosh on Twitter: @smervosh