WASHINGTON — Editor's Note: A previous version of this article said the man was identified as a pro-gun demonstrator. Park Police said their investigation into the individual is still ongoing.
A brief incident that occurred Saturday during the March for Our Lives rally on the National Mall caused demonstrators to scurry, but appeared to be quickly resolved despite the momentary panic.
In a startling moment that broke the silence being held for the recent Uvalde, Texas elementary school shooting, a man nearby the stage was heard shouting "I am the gun" into the crowd, while also throwing an unidentified object. Many people dashed away from the stage during the few seconds of chaos and some fell to the ground.
Park Police said no weapons were found, and the man was escorted away from the rally after his interruption and was detained. Park Police said that no threat to the public was found.
The speaker at the moment of disruption, Erica Ford - a Co-Architect of the New York City Crisis Management System - shouted out to the crowd from the stage, attempting to help people stay calm and urging them not to give the apparent agitator any more attention.
"Do not run! Please do not run. There is no issue here," she called into the microphone.
The occurrence seemed to underscore the fear, frustration, fury and trauma that brought the public to the event to begin with and that speakers emphasized in their speeches.
The rally for gun reform on the National Mall Saturday brought out thousands of protesters, survivors and activists. It was initially announced just days after the Ulvade shooting, in which 19 children and two teachers died when an 18-year-old gunman opened fire with an AR-15-style rifle inside Robb Elementary School. Days before that, a white 18-year-old wearing military gear and live streaming with a helmet camera opened fire with a rifle at a supermarket in Buffalo, killing 10 people and wounding three others.
Saturday's rally was the second March for Our Lives event held in D.C. following a large gathering in 2018 following a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. According to the 2022 event permit, activities were scheduled related to the march from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.
Moments of panic at 'March for Our Lives'
Organizers estimated that at least 50,000 people would participate in the event in D.C., according to the event's permit through National Park Service.
"Together, we rose up 4 years ago. 1 million of us demanded change. We built a movement. We voted for new leaders. And the gun deaths increased," the organization tweeted upon announcing the rally. "Now is the moment we march again."
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