‘Horrifying:’ Teens set off fireworks inside theater showing Little Mermaid, deputies say

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — Families were faced with a horrifying moment Saturday night as teens shot off fireworks inside a St. Augustine movie theater showing The Little Mermaid.


“We saw flashing and smoke coming in and then we hear someone yelling ‘go!’. So, we just grabbed our kids and everyone headed out the emergency exit,” Lindsay Emery said.

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She brought her 10 and 5-year-old to see The Little Mermaid at Epic Theatres in St. Augustine. She said she saw the fireworks spark but got out with her family just before they exploded in the air.

“Is it fireworks? Is it another type of explosive? Is it a distraction so they can do something else? So, it’s just grabbing our kids and getting out of there as quickly as possible,” she said.

Emery said she did not know exactly how many people were evacuated from the theater, but estimated up to 40 people were in the parking lot at the time police showed up.

Read: Man shot, killed, dispute reportedly involving rocks thrown at cars preceded shooting, police say

The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene and said everyone made it out safely and no one was hurt. All three suspects took off before deputies arrived according to a sheriff’s office Facebook post.

Two of the three teens were captured about two hours later and five miles away from the theater shooting off more fireworks near US 1 and Wildwood Drive.

The suspects were arrested and charged with arson, disorderly conduct, and felony possession of marijuana. Deputies said they seized illegal fireworks, approximately 60 grams of marijuana, and drug paraphernalia.

A third suspect is still on the run as of Monday evening.

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Action News Jax’s Robert Grant spoke with an employee at the theater who said management had no comment at the time. We also reached out to Epic Theatres corporate office for a statement, but so far have not heard back.