EXCLUSIVE: Tonight’s performance of To Kill a Mockingbird on Broadway ended abruptly after backfire sounds heard on the street were mistaken for gunshots. A witness told Deadline that audience members panicked and started running down the aisles or ducking for cover, and cast members left the stage during the show’s final scene.
A source on the scene at the Shubert Theatre told Deadline the incident happened just before 10 p.m. ET and was exacerbated by frightened pedestrians dashing from the street into the lobby and nearby Sardi’s restaurant. Other theaters along 44th Street and 45th Street apparently also experienced disturbances, but that could not be immediately confirmed.
The witness told Deadline the panic happened after a motorcycle on the street backfired two or three times.
Mockingbird actor Gideon Glick, who plays the Dill Harris character inspired by Truman Capote, tweeted that “screaming civilians tried to storm our theater for safety. The audience started screaming and the cast fled the stage”:
Police had the situation contained and calm within five minutes, the witness said.
The NYPD’s Midtown North Precinct tweeted that it received “multiple 911 calls” about an “active shooter” but confirmed that the sound indeed was a motorcycle backfiring and that “the Times Square area is safe.”
Here are some social media posts by people who say they were there:
Mike Fleming Jr. contributed to this report.