GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WFLA) — Newly-released police body camera footage reveals the moments after a peace vigil on the University of Florida campus erupted into chaos last month.
Over 1,200 people gathered in Turlington Plaza on Oct. 9 to remember Israeli civilians killed by Hamas just days earlier when they were startled by calls for help.
UF Police Department body camera video obtained by WUFT showed officers scrambling down from a balcony overlooking the frantic crowd. Another officer exited his patrol car and ran directly into a group of fleeing students with his pistol drawn, searching for a potential gunman or anything else that may have sparked chaos.
Police did not uncover a threat tied to the stampede, despite investigating a bomb threat earlier that day.
“Somebody overheard their neighbor saying he was going to kill a bunch of Jews and he was going to get a suicide-bomber backpack, and so we were looking into that, and then this happened,” a Gainesville Police Department officer said shortly after the incident.
Police believe the stampede erupted when bystanders heard a man call for help after his girlfriend fainted. Speaking to police after the incident, the woman said, “I think it was me.”
“I think I scared everybody,” she said.
At least 30 people were injured in the stampede, according to WUFT.