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Panic Sweeps Knott's After Nearby Shooting

July 10, 2021, 12:40 PM · A drive-by shooting on Beach Blvd. outside Knott's Berry Farm sparked a panic that swept through the theme park last night.

Two teenage boys were wounded in the shooting, which occurred outside the park gates. But people running away from the scene in front of the park quickly spiraled into a panic over a nonexistent active shooter, leading to a rush that injured at least three other people.

Visitors posted video of the panic on social media, showing people running both outside and inside the park, including people apparently fleeing from rides inside the park.

@myana.rubio

so crazy especially with little cousins freaking out ##fyp? ##orangecounty ##buenapark ##knottsberryfarm ##knottsshooting

? original sound - mya????

Local authorities and park officials posted to social media that there was no active shooter, but let's face it, no one stops to check Twitter when confronted with a mass of screaming people running past them.

Knott's front entrance faces and stands just feet away from Beach Blvd., one of the busiest street in Orange County. No other theme park in southern California has its entrance so close to a major public street. The entrances to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure stand perpendicular to nearby Harbor Blvd. and are separated from the street by a large transit plaza and security checkpoint. Other theme park entrances in the region stand behind large parking lots or driveways, providing a substantial buffer to local streets.

Not that a buffer zone alone can protect a park from a shooting. Universal Studios Hollywood is perhaps the most isolated of local theme parks, standing atop a hill, well behind toll gates and far from city streets. But it was the southern California theme park that most recently experienced a shooting inside the park, when the estranged boyfriend of a team member shot himself in 2015 after being confronted by sheriff's deputies upon her report that he had brought a gun inside the park.

Universal at the time was conducting only bag checks of guests entering the park. Today, all guests and park employees must walk through metal detectors and all bags are run through airport-style scanners.

Knott's has walk-through metal detectors immediately outside its entry gates, but the panic over the shooting seems to have quickly spread into the park. Knott's Friday night crowd weighs heavily toward teens and young adults - a generation that has been raised with school shooter drills and has the words "active shooter" drilled into its psyche the way that my Generation X was trained to believe that Russian nukes were about to drop on us at any moment.

Beyond that, I've got nothing to add here. Just a terrible incident all around, though thankfully no one was killed or seriously injured.

Replies (5)

July 10, 2021 at 5:25 PM

With the various shootings that happened in the past decade in the US, I can’t blame people panicking over this.

July 11, 2021 at 12:21 AM

I agree with everything in fact and opinion you wrote in the article, Robert, except that you wrote the front entrance of Knott's is feet away from Beach Boulevard.

If you look at a street map of the area, the street that turns off Beach Blvd and fronts the entrance to Knott's is Grand Avenue. You can easily access the drop off area and parking lots for Knott's by turning off Beach Blvd and traveling about 50 yards, but it is a two-lane, one-way street with newly installed speed bumps, not a major thoroughfare.

July 11, 2021 at 7:43 PM

It’s a pretty thin median separating Beach and Grand (which basically serves as Knott’s driveway) at the Knott’s front gates. And Knott’s address is on Beach.

July 14, 2021 at 3:05 PM

Knott's Twitter account described this as "away from the park" and yet, as Robert said, this was just outside the main gate. This would be like Disneyland saying that a shooting in the Esplanade was away from the parks. It was a stupid response to a very real danger.

And to say that it was a "nonexistent" active shooter is not accurate. There WAS a shooting, and it certainly WAS active at the time. To say that it was nonexistent while also reporting on the resultant injuries from the ACTIVE SHOOTING is irresponsible, Robert. I am usually in agreement with you, but for you to have posted that this shooter was "nonexistent" is just irresponsible reporting on your part. I think you meant that there was nobody going through Knott's with an AR-15 shooting indiscriminately, but somebody fired shots which wounded two people. They weren't exactly an inactive shooter. If they were, nobody would have been shot because an inactive shooter wouldn't be firing shots at people.

I've read your articles for long enough to know that you're better than this, Robert. Just as Knott's was wrong to say this happened "away from the park" when it was less than 100 feet from the main entrances, you're very wrong to say there was a "nonexistent" active shooter.

I'm Gen-X, and remember nuclear war drills. But you calling the shooter, who was indeed active, "nonexistent" is out of line.

July 14, 2021 at 3:08 PM

But I should add that many Knott's employees went above and beyond from accounts I've read, so I have nothing but love for those who went above the call of duty to try to keep people safe from a shooter that Robert apparently thinks was nonexistent.

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