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.
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.Tweet
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