My Experience Being in a Mass Shooting Scare
Every September for the past four years, I have taken the Subway to Central Park with my friends and family to attend the Global Citizens Festival along with 60,000 concert goers in New York City. Taking advantage of this free concert headlined by big name artists like Rihanna and Beyonce is a tradition for me. I was especially drawn to this event because the organization advocates for multiple social issues I am passionate about like gender equality, education rights, and eliminating poverty. When we attended this year’s festival, I thought my group of 15 friends got really lucky since we managed to stand super close to the stage. I definitely did not expect the night to end in pure chaos.
When the ordeal happened, I was sitting down on the field patiently listening to Hugh Jackman talk while waiting for The Weeknd to perform. Suddenly, someone in front of us fell and people started to circle around that person to see if they were okay. That’s when the loud noises went off. I heard six continuous pops that sounded like gunshots. I can never get that out of my head.
I was frozen and extremely confused in the seconds following because when I looked around me, none of my friends were there and people were running in all directions. The mics were cut off and those who were on the stage were quickly ushered off. A cop near me screamed “Active shooter, get down!” and that’s when the panic set in. I realized that if I didn’t run, I would either get shot or trampled by the thousands attempting to flee the Great Lawn.
Trying to find my way out was extremely difficult because there were tall, metal barriers everywhere. Fortunately, I was somehow able to jump over them in the state of panic but it was upsetting to see so many people getting injured due to these barriers. It looked like all hell broke loose at the scene because everything was disorderly. I recall seeing children separated from their families amidst the stampede. The most terrifying part was that I was expecting gunshots to hit me from the back. It genuinely felt like my life was over at that moment and that’s a feeling I would not wish on anyone.
It felt like it took me forever to make it out of the park due to the large crowd of people attempting to vacate. The roads leading outside were congested by thousands of traumatized pedestrians struggling to leave the park. It felt suffocating to be in the middle of that so I remembered jumping over the fence into the grass in order to leave the premise quicker. Moreover, I was scared of the possibility of multiple gunmen waiting outside.
When I finally made it outside, I didn’t know where to go. I remember desperately trying to get in touch with my friends but the calls wouldn’t go through. At that moment, I honestly thought everyone I loved and cared about actually died. It felt like forever until my friend called asking about my whereabouts.
Turns out none of the people I went to the festival with made it out of the park and the whole ordeal was a false shooting. Apparently, Chris Martin from Coldplay addressed the crowd, clarifying that it was a fallen barrier that made the noise. I was the last person in my group to find out. My friends all met up with me soon after and we decided to call it a night since most of us were in shock.
I am super grateful that what happened wasn’t a real mass shooting, but I am still outraged several months later. My friends and I clearly remember hearing several shot-like noises. It didn’t seem like a barrier was capable of making that. Global Citizens later sent out a statement explaining that the noise was caused by water bottles.
Unfortunately, we live in a time where mass shootings are too common in the United States. It’s definitely frightening how this sound had thousands of people running for their lives. I was extremely fazed by this experience and being in big crowds still freak me out because of it. I strongly believe the world would be a much safer place if guns were regulated. I know I would definitely feel much safer.