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Police Report Explains Confusion Over "Gunman" at Aventura Mall Movie Theater

Hundreds of people stampeded out of Aventura Mall last Saturday night when reports of a gunman spread exponentially from theater 20 to the rest of the mall and eventually the dark depths of the conspiracy-theorizing internet. Eighty-seven minutes after the panicked exodus, Aventura Mall tweeted: "Confusion during movie at Aventura Mall tonight. Police say no gun, no shooting."

Most people were relieved the chaotic confusion was not as sinister as they first thought, but others remained skeptical. After all, the mall security officers and movie theater operators were suspiciously tight-lipped, multiple witnesses claim to have seen someone with a gun (some even claim they heard shots), and then there was that damning photo of the shattered glass door.

But we got the police report -- and it turns out there was no gun, there was no shooting, and everything else has a perfectly reasonable explanation -- everything except why someone shouted "Gun!" in a crowded movie theater in the first place.

See also: Chaos at Aventura Mall Movie Theatre After Reports of Gunman Saturday Night; Police Say "No Gun, No Shooting"

At 8:21 p.m., Aventura Police Officer Hans Maestre was standing at his post on the fifth-level bridge overlooking the mallscape when he saw about 300 people flee the Johnny Rockets and movie theater lobby toward the parking garage. "There's a guy shooting in the theater!" the officer remembers patrons screaming as they darted for the exit. Once the herd of terrified patrons passed, the officer met with the movie theater's manager and security officer "who again confirmed that there were reports of a man with a gun in Theater #20," the report states.

The officer approached the alleged gunman near the top of the theater and found two men pinning another man against a seat. "He's my son... and he's having an episode," one of the men yelled. "There's no gun; my son just had an episode. Please, there's no gun."

The 49-year-old man yelling was William Mejia, and his son, 18-year-old Marko Mejia-Castrillon, was in fact suffering from a dissociative episode and didn't have a gun or any other weapon on him. "Mr. Marko Mejia-Castrillon suffers from a pre-existing condition... and currently taking several [medications]," the report states. "Somehow [Mejia-Castrillon] was triggered into a violent episode which made him attack his own father by head-butting him and punching other patrons sitting nearby."

The teen was then escorted through a back hallway to the officer's vehicle. Once traffic in the parking garage cleared, the officer transported him to the Mount Sinai emergency room and completed a Baker Act. "Mr. Mejia-Castrillon's actions endangered him and approximately 300 or more patrons after the incident trickled into a full panic," the report states.

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Jess Swanson is a staff writer at New Times. Born and raised in Miami, she graduated from the University of Miami’s School of Communication and wrote briefly for the student newspaper until realizing her true calling: pissing off fraternity brothers by reporting about their parties on her crime blog. Especially gifted in jumping rope and solving Rubik’s cubes, she also holds the title for longest stint as an unpaid intern in New Times history. She left the Magic City for New York to earn her master’s degree from Columbia University School of Journalism, where she spent a year profiling circumcised men who were trying to regrow their foreskins for a story that ultimately won the John Horgan Award for Critical Science Journalism. Terrified by pizza rats and arctic temperatures, she quickly returned to her natural habitat.
Contact: Jess Swanson

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