Several people were injured after false reports of an active shooter sent crowds scrambling after a boxing match at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn attended by celebrities such as Madonna and tennis star Naomi Osaka, authorities said.
A spokesman for the New York Police Department told The Washington Post that a “loud disturbance” after the world lightweight championship match caused people to start running just after midnight on Sunday, and that early reports swirling on social media of shots fired were “incorrect.”
Ten people suffered minor injuries in the crowd surge and were transported to hospitals for treatment, Detective Adam Navarro said.
Osaka wrote on Twitter early Sunday that she was inside the Barclays Center when she “heard shouting and saw people running,” before being told “that there was an active shooter and we had to huddle in a room and close the doors.” Osaka said she was “petrified.”
The panic revealed a nation on edge after 19 elementary school children and two adults in Uvalde, Tex., and 10 people at a Buffalo supermarket were killed in separate mass shootings just days apart this month, illustrating the bleak recurrence of such incidents in the United States.
Navarro said the NYPD investigated and dismissed reports of an active shooter at the scene. “Once we looked into it, we found it was a bunch of nothing,” he told The Post.
Some people took to social media to call for gun-control measures, appearing to draw a link to the Texas school shooting last week.
“We’re used to brawls at boxing events but recent headlines and the panic of the crowd made many of us worried that our worst fears would come true,” Ryan Songalia, a boxing reporter for the Ring, told the New York Post.
One social media user, who had earlier posted a video of the match from inside the Barclays Center, wrote that he and his father “had to run and hide against the walls” when a stampede developed.
“I watched a guy get trampled nearly out cold,” that person tweeted. “I am beyond done.”
The Twitter user could not immediately be reached for comment.
Photos and videos posted on social media appear to show that the match was over and that many spectators had already left when people began to scream and run back inside the arena early Sunday. In the aftermath, shoes and trash were seen strewn on the ground. When contacted for comment, the Barclays Center directed The Washington Post to the NYPD.
Madonna was among the nearly 19,000 spectators at the sold-out Barclays Center who watched undefeated lightweight champion Gervonta Davis, of Baltimore, retain his World Boxing Association title with a sixth-round technical knockout of Rolando Romero. It was not immediately clear whether she was present during the subsequent mayhem.
Mike Coppinger, a reporter for ESPN, tweeted earlier in the night that a Barclays Center security supervisor told the outlet there was “a person with a gun” outside the arena.
Stefan Bondy, a sports reporter for the New York Daily News, tweeted that he was inside Barclays Center. At the end of the fight, “as everybody was clearing out, there were reports of gunshots,” he wrote. “I didn’t hear them but security guard said report on radio was it occurred on concourse. Crazy stampede of people followed. Scary scene.”
The NYPD had a different account. “There was some kind of sound disturbance where people became a little afraid — some ran toward the Barclays Center, some ran away from it,” Navarro said. “People are banging into each other, so you had 10 individuals — no children — who had minor injuries and went to area hospitals at approximately 1 o’clock outside the location.”
Osaka, soon after, said, “I really hope everyone made it out safely, since I’m tweeting this we made it out ok.”
Another shooting was reported overnight Sunday in Chattanooga, Tenn., where local news outlets, citing police, said several people were shot and one person detained.