Newport Beach leaf blower case: 3 injured after man breaks into cinema shouting 'I've got a chainsaw'

Police are currently looking for three men believed to have been involved in the incident

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The Independent US

Three people were hurt after a man caused panic in a cinema when he burst through a door shouting "I've got a chainsaw" – wielding what turned out to be a leaf blower machine above his head.

Terrified filmgoers at Edwards Big Newport 6 cinema in Newport Beach, Los Angeles, thought they were “going to die” after the man interrupted a late-night showing of thriller The Gift.

Witnesses described seeing a man holding “some type of loud, handheld machine” – later established as a leaf blower – over his head and yelling “I’ve got a chainsaw” at the audience.

“No one got up. Then he cranked it again, and everyone started screaming. Someone else yelled they saw a gun,” Kyndall Aldama, 23, told the Orange County Register.

“You’re literally thinking [about] Texas Chainsaw Massacre, like there’s crazy people out there,” she told CBS Los Angeles.

“You’re in a theatre, and you think you’re going to die,” said Ms Aldama, who suffered a hairline fracture in her leg.

“People started screaming, and everybody got up and started running, like fight-or-flight, and some lady pushed me and I fell on the ground, and like seven or eight people trampled over my leg, and over my head.”

Jennifer Manzella, a spokesperson for Newport Beach police, said the incident was not being treated as a “minor prank”.

Three men are believed to have been involved in the incident, with two accomplices propping open a backdoor to the cinema in order to allow the third man to enter the theatre.

“The fear that was incited in moviegoers was very much influenced by what’s going on in the rest of the country,” Ms Manzella said, adding that the prankster intended to fool people into believing they were carrying a weapon.

The prank follows the killing of two people at a screening of comedy Trainwreck in Louisiana. Nine people were also injured in the attack, with gunman John Houser, 59, killing himself in the theatre.