From the AJC.com:
Thursday night’s “Screen on the Green” movie at Piedmont Park ended early because of “safety concerns” after a large fight in the crowd was followed by what some audience members described as gunshots or a stun gun being fired.
The screening of “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” was cut short and an announcement was made that there were technical difficulties with the movie.
Peachtree TV, sponsor of the movie series, released the following statement Friday morning:
“Thursday night’s Screen on the Green event in Piedmont Park was ended early due to safety concerns. Event sponsor Peachtree TV – in consultation with the Atlanta Police Department, private security and the company that operates the event – stopped the movie 20 minutes early and worked with the Piedmont Park Conservancy and APD to safely vacate the area. Last night’s events are currently under review by APD, Peachtree TV, the City of Atlanta Parks Department and the Conservancy.”
One man who went to the park with his wife and some friends told the AJC in an early morning e-mail Friday that about 15 minutes into the movie, “everyone’s attention was diverted to the back end of the event where a group fight was taking place.
“There seemed to be no police presence and after about 10 minutes of this brawl, it broke up with a group of people running into the dark,” the man, who asked to be identified only as Ron, wrote. “Just as things started to settle back down, a few gunshots rang out and the crowd started trampling the area trying to flee the scene.”
Some other movie-goers, however, said they didn’t hear any gunshots, but that they did hear a Taser being used by someone in the crowd.
“It was an absolute mob scene, from the Chick-fil-A girls getting mobbed trying to hand out free sandwiches to the complete lack of respect for the people watching the movie,” said Marc Freund.
“After enduring the first 30 minutes of the movie with people walking around and screaming, we decided to leave,” Freund told the AJC. “As we left, we heard a Taser going off in the back, followed by people screaming and running.”
“There was some background noise that started to get louder and louder in that area, and then suddenly as it got really loud, people right behind us were screaming and running away,” said Hannah Lodge. “The crowd was fairly hysterical.”
Midtown resident Jeff Keesee said there were “gangs of kids roaming the aisles, doing stunts to get crowd reactions. People just standing around talking, yelling — disrespect, rudeness, unruliness — a total disaster.”
Ron wrote that as his group headed to their cars, he saw a group of “high school-aged kids” throwing rocks at passing vehicles. One of the rocks “completely shattered the back window” of one of the cars, he said.
He said many of the children in the crowd were “scared and crying.”
Keesee said he didn’t see a single police officer as the situation got “completely out of control.”
The weekly movie series began on May 27 and is scheduled to continue on Thursday nights through June 24.