‘False alarm’: Panic at Doe Library allegedly caused by balloons

Photo of Doe Library
Jackie Samsell/Staff
At around 6:45 p.m. Friday, loud sounds were heard in Doe Library. Students in the North Reading Room, which is on the second floor of the library, reportedly began screaming and ducking under library tables.

Related Posts

Students working at Doe Library heard what sounded like gunshots at around 6:45 p.m. Friday, which were later alleged to be the sounds of popping balloons.

“The reported shots fired at Doe Library is a false alarm,” reads a tweet from Berkeley Scanner. “Current reports show it was possibly balloons popping causing people to think it was a shooting.”

After the loud sounds were heard, students in the North Reading Room screamed and took cover under library tables. One student jumped from the balcony.

An announcement at the library told students to remain indoors for their safety. UCPD officers arrived later and began evacuating students from the building.

Ewan Benoit, a campus junior, said he was “quite afraid” and that he saw students running when the popping noises began.

Chul Hwang, a student who works at the library, said he saw a group of people running around outside of the library with balloons tied to their ankles. Hwang added that the people were trying to pop each others’ balloons by stepping on them.

People were running around with balloons tied to their ankles,” Hwang said. “People would try to step on the balloons to pop them. People thought those were gunshots. It started in the Doe North Reading Room. People got scared that it was gunshots, people started running out of the library.”

Hwang said UCPD appeared five minutes after the pops began.

A source who wished to remain anonymous said they were in the North Reading Room when they heard “a couple dozen pops” and that those around them started to notice after the first four or five. The source added that immediately following the pops, two or three people ran to a window on the western side and broke it open. The source left through the broken window, while others in the room also tried to escape from what the source believed was an active shooter.

There were so many people, it was several dozen people trying to get out of the window,” the source said. “I got out. I was pretty thankful to get out.”

The source commended UCPD for their “insanely fast response” to the situation.

UCPD officer Billy Brashear said that after UCPD arrived, they assumed an active shooter protocol, which was stopped after they determined there was no active shooter. Brashear added that UCPD found injured people on the second floor of the library.

“We came across injured folks on the second floor,” Brashear said. “They broke windows and glass attempting to get away from what they thought would be an active shooter. There were minor injuries and lacerations. Cuts and scrapes.”

Victor Corona contributed to this story.

Christopher Ying is the city news editor Contact him at [email protected], and follow him on Twitter at @ChrisYingg.