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Fight in food court with thrown chairs mistaken for gunshots at Willow Grove Mall

Abington Township police received mistaken reports around 4:40 p.m. of an active shooter.

File photo.
File photo.Read moreTIM TAI / Staff Photographer

A fight involving thrown chairs was mistaken for gunfire and caused a panic for last-minute holiday shopper late Tuesday afternoon at the Willow Grove Park Mall in Montgomery County, police said.

About 4:40 p.m., police in Abington Township started receiving reports about an active shooter at the mall.

“Officers already on scene at the mall for the holiday detail quickly located a disturbance between several males in which food court chairs were being thrown at each other,” the township police said in a statement.

“The chairs made a loud noise, which caused multiple mall patrons to begin to run thinking that the noise was gunshots. Several department stores began to lock their doors and tell patrons to hide," police said.

One person posted on Twitter: “[W]e’re in willow grove mall & someone screamed ‘gun’ and literally just watched a man grab his three kids and kick through a metal exit door and people being trampled i am shaking so bad i literally can’t breathe.”

The buzz and repeated false mentions about an active shooter at the mall caused “Willow Grove Mall” to briefly enter the top 20 of trending topics on Twitter.

Police advised people at the mall that there was no shooting, and the mall resumed normal business.