Balloon pop caused Town Center panic Sunday, police say

Police confirmed Tuesday that a balloon popped in the food court, causing shoppers to flee Town Center Mall on Sunday. There was no evidence of gunfire.


Bloomingdales at Town Center Mall in Boca Raton.

Israel Fontoura, News Editor

Boca police received reports of a shooting at the Boca Town Center mall in the food court area Sunday at around 3 p.m. They released a public statement Tuesday saying a popped balloon caused shoppers to flee the area, not a gunshot.


Investigators say they found a video that shows a janitor pushing a garbage cart through the food court area, and the cart rolled over and dragged a balloon, according to a police report


The janitor later confirmed he popped the balloon — which detectives found evidence of on the floor.


The investigation shows there was no crime committed because there was no evidence that a weapon had been used. 


Police searched the mall for any threats and victims along with the agents from the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and SWAT team that assisted with the evacuation. 


One man sustained a traumatic injury, police said, after his head hit a door as he was evacuating. Police suspects a delay of a couple of minutes between when the janitor popped the balloon and when patrons are seen fleeing the area. 


Officer Kenneth Fong found the injured man in the parking lot by Bloomingdale’s. But police say since he was drifting in and out of consciousness, he couldn’t provide any information about the incident. 


Police Chief Dan Alexander said that officers were on duty at the mall and were able to secure the scene almost immediately. Alexander estimated over 1,000 people were inside the mall during evacuation procedures.

The mall has resumed normal operations and extra officers have been assigned to the shopping center. If you have any information, police advise contacting Officer Jessica Desir at (561) 338-1269.


Check back with the UP for updates.


Israel Fontoura is news editor of the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or Tweet him at @israelofontoura.