DAVIS — A performance of the hit Broadway musical “Hamilton” ended early last night in San Francisco after a woman in the audience had a medical emergency.
But, that’s not what other members in the audience thought was happening.
Hundreds took cover and ran for the exit over false reports of a shooter in the theater.
FOX40 spoke with a Davis couple who ran for their lives — unaware that they were in no real danger — as a valentines surprise for Shelly Bailes and Ellen Pontac took an unexpected turn.
“Oh we were ecstatic! I’ve been wanting to see the show since the day it came out,” Bailes said.
“Someone said ‘gun!’ And people — that was it — they just freaked out as you can imagine, Pontac remembered.
Just as the title character was shot on stage in the show, a woman had a heart attack in the audience, confusing theatergoers.
This incident prompted those in the audience to think the theatrical gun shot was real.
“The guy behind me said ‘duck!’ We both fell down to the ground,” Bailes remembered. “We waited there for a minute or two and then I stood up and saw the whole orchestra was empty. I said we have to get out of here.”
Bailes and Pontac were in the front row so they were able to find the front exit pretty easily.
“We were both so scared and so shaken. I can’t believe we were able to walk out of there. Our whole bodies were shaking,” Bailes said.
Others in the audience faced a chaotic rush for the main exit. Some were trampled as they tried to get out and at least three people were injured.
Now, the Theatre is facing backlash online.
I was in the balcony with my 6 and 9 year old. There was absolutely NO announcement. There was mass chaos and absolutely no support and direction from SHN staff. Extremely disappointed in how the event was handled.
— Laura Lasnier (@LLasnier) February 16, 2019
This is not true. I was in the front orchestra and there was no alarm that we could hear, no announcements, no ushers to be seen. Negligence
— Dan Polidoro (@DanPolidoro1) February 16, 2019
“It’s not their fault, but it is their problem,” Pontac said.
The Theatre released a statement saying, they are reviewing the events that caused this confusion and that they are “dedicated to protecting the safety of our audiences and our own company members.”
They also said patrons will be invited back to the Orpheum to see “Hamilton” again.
This is good news for Bailes and Pontac who say they won’t let this scare keep them from enjoying the theater.
“I really just want to live my life the way I always did. I think that’s really important. I don’t think that something dangerous should stop us,” Bailes said.