Popped balloon results in shooting scare at Town Center at Boca Raton

Police determine janitor pushing garbage cart through food court popped balloon

By Peter Burke - Local10.com Managing Editor

Erroneous reports of shots being fired at the Town Center at Boca Raton were the result of a popped balloon in the food court.

BOCA RATON, Fla. - A balloon that popped in the food court at a popular South Florida mall led to a shooting scare that sent frenzied shoppers and employees running for cover.

Police confirmed Tuesday that no crime occurred during Sunday afternoon's scare at the Town Center at Boca Raton.

Officer Jessica Desir said police initially received multiple reports of shots having been fired at the food court. 

Desir said Officer Kenneth Fong was in the parking lot near Bloomingdale's when he found a man suffering from a traumatic injury to his head. She said the man spoke Creole and was "drifting in and out of consciousness, so he was unable to initially provide any information about what occurred or how he was injured."

Meanwhile, police continued to receive reports of gunshots, prompting officers to search the mall. In the end, though, there was no evidence that a shooting had occurred.

Desir said detectives used surveillance video, along with blood and hair evidence, to determine the victim was injured "after his head hit the push bar on a door as he was evacuating the mall." He was taken to Delray Medical Center.

Investigators also reviewed surveillance video showing a janitor pushing a garbage cart through the food court.

"The garbage cart rolled over and dragged a balloon," Desir said. "The janitor said that he popped the balloon and detectives later found a popped balloon the floor."

Desir said video footage shows people in the food court reacting to the sound.

"The extensive investigation did not reveal that any crime occurred," Desir said. "There was no evidence that a weapon had been used."

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