News & Opinion

Guns Seized, Arrests Made After Chaos During Uptown Charlotte Fireworks

Fireworks shoot off at Truist Field in Uptown against the backdrop of the Charlotte skyline
A commotion occurred at Romare Bearden Park prior to the start of the Charlotte Knights fireworks show on July 4, 2023, in Uptown. (Photo by Laura Wolff photography

Four guns were seized and over a dozen juveniles arrested following a large brawl that broke out Tuesday night during a Fourth of July celebration at Romare Bearden Park in Uptown Charlotte.

The commotion began a little before 9 p.m. at the park, located across from Truist Field, where people had gathered to watch the annual SkyShow fireworks display after the Charlotte Knights game. At the time, details were unclear about what was going on, though several videos shared on social media show fireworks exploding in the crowd, people fighting and others running away in fear.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Johnny Jennings said during a press conference Wednesday that the disruption was caused by groups of teenagers starting fights and shooting off illegal fireworks into the crowd, which caused panic among attendees.

Jennings said some of the teens also disrupted the event in other ways, including “putting on a mask and running through a crowd.”

“These were planned behaviors,” Jennings said.

“A few people who decided to come out into the crowd last night for the main purpose of disrupting a festive event with peaceful people that were out there just to enjoy the holiday caused so much disruption that people couldn’t enjoy it fully like they wanted to,” Jennings said. “For that, I’m disappointed.”

Jennings condemned the actions of the juveniles, saying “that’s not who Charlotte is and that’s not what we represent,” and commended his staff and the responding officers for their response, which included mitigating and de-escalating situations, identifying and detaining the disruptors and taking four guns off the street. Police are still looking into whether the guns are legally owned.

Lt. Kevin Pietrus said during Wednesday’s press conference that 32 people were arrested and/or cited for their actions during the Fourth of July event in Uptown, including 17 juveniles aged 13-17 years and 15 adults.

Their charges include affray, carrying a concealed weapon, resisting a public officer, assault on a government official, disorderly conduct, possession of a firearm on city property, possession of pyrotechnics and failure to disperse.

The 15 adults cited were identified by CMPD as parents and/or guardians of 15 of the arrested juveniles. They were issued citations for contributing to the delinquency of a minor, meaning they left their children unsupervised and those children were charged with a crime, Jennings said.

The disruption caused no known injuries to the public, but Pietrus said two CMPD officers sustained minor injuries.

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