• NO SHOTS FIRED: 18 hurt, 8 in hospital after fight in Florida Mall food court incites panic

    By: Chip Skambis , Megan Cruz

    Updated:

    ORLANDO, Fla. - An argument over a refund at the A&W in the Florida Mall food court started the fight that caused a panic after shoppers believed they heard gunshots, according to an arrest report. 

    Witnesses told deputies Anthony Manuel, 55, was arguing animatedly with employees at the A&W and approached the counter multiple times demanding a refund, the report states.

    As Manuel's wife tried to pull him away from the counter, 39-year-old Jenny Ochoa approached the man to try to keep the situation from escalating, the report states. 

    Surveillance video shows Ochoa slapping Manuel, who then punches her in the face, causing her to fall to the floor. 

    Manuel left the area, and Ochoa tried to throw a chair as she got back up, the video shows. 

    Read: Lake County detention deputy killed in head-on crash, officials say

    Shortly thereafter, panic broke out in the mall and crowds of people fled and sought shelter, believing they heard gunshots. 

    Deputies attributed the sound to chairs being thrown in the food court. In the ensuing chaos, one person had a seizure, deputies said. 

    Orange County Fire Rescue dispatched at least five ambulances to the mall. 

    Firefighters evaluated 18 people for minor injuries, taking eight to area hospitals. 

    Both Manuel and Ochoa are facing battery and disorderly conduct charges, according to the Sheriff's Office. 

    Previous panic

    This is not the first time a loud noise in the food court led shoppers at the Florida Mall to believe there was a shooting, prompting a panic. 

    Shoppers got quite a scare in August 2016 when an inspection on Joey Fatone’s eatery, Fat Ones, sparked a shooting scare.

    Deputies said mall management scheduled a fire suppression system test at the new hot dog kiosk.

    The test is an industry-standard test and was done through a contracted vendor.

    The hot dog stand has since closed. 

     

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