Several injured after possible ‘chemical agent’ released at Baltimore Pride

stock image of pride flags at a parade

Several people have been injured after a possible chemical agent was dispersed into a large crowd of attendees at Baltimore Pride.

On Saturday evening (15 June), the Baltimore Parade and Block Party took place in Maryland’s largest city, but the event came to a sudden halted when a chemical was released into the crowd and fireworks were set off, causing pride-goers to panic and flee the area.

Baltimore Police Department detective Freddie Talbert confirmed to Newsweek that the incident happened at approximately 8.37pm near the main stage, located near North Avenue and Charles Street, during a performance by headliner Saucy Santana.

“At approximately 8:37pm, attendees informed officers stationed at the Pride Parade festivities that a possible chemical agent was released into the crowd, potentially mace, hair spray, or another agent,” Talbert said to the publication in an email. “Police did not release the chemical agent.”

“Additionally, fireworks were set off at the location, causing attendees to flee the area. Due to the large crowd fleeing, several individuals were injured as they attempted to leave the area.”

The injured individuals – the number of which is not currently known – were treated by the local fire service.

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Talbert went on to confirm that an investigation is underway into the incident but added the police do not currently have any evidence to suggest this was a targeted attack on the Pride celebration.

‘How much worse can this get?’

Speaking with The Baltimore Banner, Cockeysville resident Kate Bowers said she and friends were stood near the main stage when the chaos erupted.

She described the situation as “like a bomb went off”, with the air “so thick” and people “screaming and running”.

“People were throwing up. People were pouring water in each other’s eyes. There was a little kid in a stroller. They were pouring water in the child’s eyes,” she told the publication.

 Bowers went onto say she has not yet fully processed the situation: “Waking up this morning. The magnitude of what could have happened hit me. That was the scary thing, thinking ‘how much worse can this get?’”

The incident comes after the US officials issued a warning about potential terror attacks at LGBTQ+ Pride events across the world.

“Stay alert in locations frequented by tourists, including Pride celebrations,” the State Department warned on 17 May, saying there is “increased potential for foreign terrorist organization-inspired violence” against the LGBTQ+ community.

The warning came just just days after the FBI and Department of Homeland Security released a public alert warning that foreign terrorist organisations and their supporters could seek to “exploit increased gatherings associated with the upcoming June 2024 Pride Month” in the US.

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