Published On: Fri, Jan 3rd, 2020

Fireworks at New Jersey marriage proposal prompts evacuation of theater: ‘This was a very poor decision’

A man from New Jersey has been charged with disorderly conduct after setting off fireworks in celebration of his buddy’s engagement — and scaring the living daylights out of everyone within earshot.

Nathan Sanders, 23, had arranged to set off the fireworks outside of an indoor rock-climbing facility in Howell Township, to coincide with a marriage proposal his friend was planning on Wednesday. However, the sound of the fireworks was mistaken for gunfire, and immediately caused panic at the adjacent Xscape movie theater, according to Howell Township police.

“There was no intent to cause panic to theatre patrons,” police wrote on Facebook. “Obviously this was a very poor decision rather than an overt act.”
(Howell Township Police Department)

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Some patrons believed the gunfire to be coming from inside the theater. Police responded to the scene, but could not immediately confirm “there was an actual shooting.”

Patrons of the movie theater were evacuated and detained during the preliminary investigation.

According to police, a manager at the movie theater had discovered that Sanders, from Lakewood, had set off fireworks outside of the adjacent Climb Zone. Law enforcement soon discovered the remnants of “discharged fireworks” nearby.

Police say Nathan Sanders had set up the fireworks outside of a rock-climbing facility where his friend was proposing.

Police say Nathan Sanders had set up the fireworks outside of a rock-climbing facility where his friend was proposing.
(Howell Township Police Department)

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Sanders was placed under arrest and charged with a fireworks infraction and disorderly conduct, according to the Associated Press.

He was released from custody the same evening.

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“Mr. Sanders lit off the fireworks while a friend was proposing marriage. There was no intent to cause panic to theatre patrons,” police wrote on Facebook.

“Obviously this was a very poor decision rather than an overt act.”