Newport Beach

Leaf Blower-Wielding Men Scare Weekend Moviegoers

Callers told police that two or three men had entered their theater holding a loud, handheld machine, later identified as a leaf blower.

Some Southern Californians got more of a thrill than they expected during their weekend movie, when a few men entered a movie theater and scared viewers inside with a leaf blower.

Police got several 911 calls reporting a disturbance at the Edwards Big Newport 6 movie theater around 11 p.m. Saturday, according to the Newport Beach Police Department. Callers told police that two or three men had entered their theater holding a loud, handheld machine, later identified as a leaf blower.

Police believe the men arranged to open a secured emergency exit door at the front of a theater showing the newly-released psychological thriller, "The Gift," Newport Beach police said.

According to police, one man entered the theater through the emergency exit shaking a leaf blower above his head, revving the engine of the leaf-blower and yelling.

“Everyone just started screaming – it was chaos,” said moviegoer Mara Rothbart.

The men then left the theater through the same emergency exit.

Moviegoers ran outside of the theater, and three people suffered minor injuries during the rushed exit, police said.

“I thought, I’m going to die. I’m 23 and I’m going to die at a movie theater,” said another moviegoer, Kyndall Aldama, who injured her foot when she was trampled during the panic.

Fleeing patrons and the emergency exit door alarm notified theater management, Newport Beach police said.

Officers set a perimeter around the theater in the 300 block of Newport Center Drive, but the men had already gotten away. Long Beach police believe the men came to the theater with the intention of scaring the moviegoers inside.

Police believe two or three men in their late teens to early 30s are responsible. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact Detective Joshua Vincelet at 949-644-3779, or jvincelet@nbpd.org.

Gadi Schwartz contributed to this report.

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