9 Injured in Mall Stampede Over Popping Balloons at Joey Fatone-Owned Eatery

Crowds at the mall mistook the sound for shooting and panicked.

— -- The sound of popping balloons set off a panic at an Orlando mall, creating a stampede that injured at least nine people.

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

The test consisted of popping balloons followed by a fire alarm.

"The Orange County Fire Inspector was there as a witness to the test, but did not conduct the test," officials said in a statement. "An announcement was made on the PA system informing shoppers and employees the test would be conducted. The test consisted of six large balloons popping consecutively, followed by a fire alarm. This caused people to go into panic mode and run."

Mark Comer was with his sister inside the mall when the chaos unfolded, WFTV reported.

He said people were screaming as they ran toward the doors.

Comer grabbed his cellphone and recorded video.

"People were bumping into things, getting stepped on, falling, children getting dragged by their arms," he said.

Mall goers didn’t realize until much later that it was a false alarm.

“People are actually shouting, ‘They’re shooting, they’re shooting,’” witness Ebony Freeman told WFTV.

Freeman said she was trapped inside a bathroom and had no idea about the whereabouts of her brother, who accompanied her to the mall.

“In the women’s bathroom, alone. There were men. There were children. There were older people. People were just running for cover,” she said.

Les Morris, a mall spokesperson, said in a statement, "This afternoon at one of the food kiosks in the Dining Pavilion at Florida Mall, the Orange County Fire Marshall's office was performing a fire suppression test. As part of this test, a bladder system within the device unexpectedly popped several times, startling some customers. The test has been concluded. Florida Mall remained open and is operating as usual."

Four people were transported to local hospitals with minor injuries they sustained as the crowds rushed out of the building, officials told WFTV.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.