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A performance of the hit musical “Hamilton” ended with three injuries Friday night after the audience “self-evacuated” following a medical scare in San Francisco.
San Francisco Police officer Joseph Tomlinson told USA TODAY that a woman suffered a medical emergency during a scene where Founding Father Alexander Hamilton is shot on stage, mistakenly sparking mass hysteria of a shooting among audience members.
“A woman had some type of medical emergency,” Tomlinson said. “At the same time their was gunfire during the performance at ‘Hamilton’ and the audience connected the two…and started ‘self evacuating.'”
“An (Automated External Defibrillator) was pulled which also triggered an alarm,” the San Francisco Fire Department added. “This resulted (in) confusion, and an un-organized rapid exit of the theater.”
Videos posted to social media show people frantically piling out of the Orpheum Theatre as armed officers responded to the scene. The “Hamilton” cast was also evacuated, prompting a round of applause once they were able to return to the theater.
However, the show did not continue.
The San Francisco Fire Department said three people required hospitalization as a result of the panic – one with a broken leg and two with “moderate injuries.” The woman whose medical emergency triggered the confusion was also rushed to a hospital with “life-threatening injuries,” Tomlinson told USA TODAY.
“The original patient who required an AED had a return of pulses with CPR and paramedic and remains in critical condition,” the department’s official account tweeted.
The theater’s Twitter account explained the incident: “During a medical event at the SHN Orpheum Theatre this evening an audience member activated the theater’s fire pull station. The audience and cast followed the life/safety system’s automatic announcement and exited the theater.”
Many patrons, however, challenged Orpheum Theatre’s version of the story and slammed the lack of protocol and assistance during the tumultuous chaos.
“I was in the balcony with my 6 and 9 year old,” user Laura Lasnier tweeted. “There was absolutely NO announcement. There was mass chaos and absolutely no support and direction from SHN staff. Extremely disappointed in how the event was handled.”
User @giuliacss agreed.
“Disappointed and frustrated for going through hell on a night that was meant to be amazing because of a lack of protocol and organization,” she tweeted.
Kenneth Mah called the theater’s version of the story “false.” “There was no announcement. There was chaos causing audience to respond as if there was a mass shooting. (Fire and police) responded as if there was such an attack not a medical emergency only.”
USA TODAY reached out to the Orpheum Theatre for comment.
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