3 suspects use leaf blower to scare Newport Beach moviegoers

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- Authorities are investigating a disturbance involving a leaf blower that caused moviegoers to panic and flee from a movie theater in Newport Beach Saturday night.

Three suspects used a leaf blower to scare theater patrons at the Edwards Big Newport 6 theater, located in the 300 block of Newport Center Drive. Moviegoers were attending a late night showing of "The Gift."

Authorities received several phone calls around 10:51 p.m. regarding reports of two or three men entering the theater with a loud, handheld machine.

Moviegoers thought the leaf blower was a chainsaw and scrambled to get out of the screening room. Three people received minor injuries after being trampled in the frenzy.

The suspects had arranged to open the secured emergency exit door at the front of theater No. 3 during the screening of the movie, police said. One of the suspects then entered the theater, held the leaf blower over his head and yelled, shaking the blower and revving its engine.

Theater management was alerted to the activity by the emergency door alarm activation and reports from people who ran out of the theater.

The suspects have not been identified, but are either white or Hispanic and in their late teens to early 30s. No further details were available on the suspects.

The investigation was ongoing. Authorities were looking at surveillance footage and interviewing witnesses.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Newport Beach Police Department Detective Joshua Vincelet at (949) 644-3779 or (800) 550-NBPD.
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