Mass Panic Follows Shooting at Kennywood

September 25, 2022, 12:22 AM · Updated. Law enforcement officers from multiple jurisdictions responded to Kennywood Saturday night after the latest mass panic incident at an American theme park. Three people were injured from gunshot wounds to their legs while an unspecified number were hurt in the rush to escape the incident, authorities said.

Pittsburgh Public Safety Tweeted that police were on the scene in response to reports of a shooting inside the park. Kennywood later posted that "We are aware of a situation that occurred this evening and are working with local law enforcement. The safety of our guests and Team Members are our top priority. Members of the park's security, Allegheny County, and West Mifflin police departments were already on site and immediately responded."

As of early Sunday morning, police were looking for a suspect in the shooting, which followed an altercation between two groups of young people, a local official said. Two teens and a 39-year-old man were injured in the shooting, which happened just before 11pm near the Musik Express ride.

Saturday was the opening night of Kennywood's Phantom Fall Fest Halloween haunt event.

Mass panic incidents at Knott's Berry Farm and Carowinds earlier this year led the Cedar Fair chain to implement mandatory chaperone policies at some parks that banned unaccompanied minors at certain times, including after-hours Halloween events. Kennywood is owned by another company, Parques Reunidos, but according to the park's website, Kennywood also has a mandatory chaperone policy after 4pm on weekends. The park also a bag checks and metal detectors at its entrance. Police said that they are, as of now, unsure how the gun was brought into the park.

Kennywood issued the following statement Sunday afternoon:

“We are greatly saddened by the violence that occurred last night. Our thoughts are with those who were injured as a result of the incident, as well as all guests and team members affected by what happened. We have made services available for team members in need of support at this time.

“We are closely collaborating with police as they investigate. Our entry security protocols include a state of the art weapons detection system put into place at the start of this season, video scanning, and bag checks. We regularly supplement our park
security staff with officers from the Allegheny County Police Department and West Mifflin Police Department, who were contracted to support our teams during operating hours, including Saturday evening. We will continue to cooperate with authorities throughout their investigation.

“The park is closed Sunday, September 25. We will reopen as scheduled on Friday evening, September 30, and will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available. - Mark Pauls, Kennywood General Manager”

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Replies (8)

September 25, 2022 at 10:37 AM

Everyone needs to be made aware that the metal detectors at the entrance of Kennywood are really just for show. No one walks in single file style. You walk in with the group you’re with. The security table only checks bags & strollers. This season is the first time they changed their security policy. Prior to this year, after they scanned your pass, or ticket, you would walk through your own metal detector with security having all of your phones set aside & walking through again until you’re green.

My children & I were at Kennywood last night & no parent should ever have to feel what was felt last night. Reading about these shootings & feeling so sad by it doesn’t compare to actually feeling the fear of being in a situation like that.

I want Kennywood to be blasted for creating short cuts (because they don’t want to pay for the extra security).

Now, more than ever, business have added extra security measures because of the added violence all over the world. You do not downgrade security. It just makes no sense.

September 25, 2022 at 10:56 AM

America is awash in guns; 72 million Americans support a political party dedicated to proliferating more and more deadly guns. Our society is sick with violence because any idiot anywhere can put their hands on a gun. There is not "added violence all over the world," America's gun violence problem is its own.

Kennywood needs better security, sure, but the problem is America's far right and its disgusting gun lust. As long as one of our political parties puts guns before kids, guns before everything, we will continue to live in this insane reality.

Or, to anticipate the counter-argument, Kennywood should give every man, woman and child that enters the park their own AR-15. If only there had been some 'good guys' with guns, right??

September 25, 2022 at 11:51 AM

security theater isn't gonna save us from this problem. too many guns.

September 25, 2022 at 12:15 PM

According to the website of the US Justice department, crimes that are committed with guns show only 7% of those firearms were bought legally under their own name.
93% were either stolen, bought on the black market or given to them from a family or a friend.
I’m personally not a gun owner, however I do enjoy occasionally going to the shooting range. My wife’s family are all gun owners and funnily enough are mostly liberal democrats…figure THAT one out.
I don’t think the answer to what is going on is to ban guns or make it harder for law abiding citizens to own one. I think the answer lies with tougher laws and law enforcement for people who are criminals. The laws should give at least 10 years in prison for a gun robbery, 25 years for a discharge of a gun in a crime and life without parole for murder with said firearm. Put the criminal element on notice in this country and you will see results.

September 25, 2022 at 7:44 PM

Blame the guns and not the people. Meanwhile our morals are crumbling. Gotta love the baby killers that promote abortions in the name of women’s rights. These beliefs are unsound.

September 25, 2022 at 7:24 PM

From what I've seen, it appears this was likely an escalation of an altercation between individuals/groups rather than an attack on the park or its patrons as a whole. However, I do suspect this was not a spontaneous incident, as it would require some planning to get a firearm inside an amusement park. That said, due to the design of Kennywood, it probably would be one of the easier parks to do so if someone were determined as there is no buffer around the perimeter fence and a couple gates have gaps large enough to stick something small through. It is a vulnerability that needs to be addressed prior to resuming operation, but it is also not something I previously would have considered a likely issue.

Regardless of the reason for this incident, it is clear from the growing number of them that there is a trend of more frequent and more severe altercations between groups of teenagers and adults in America than there was in the past. What this means for theme parks going forward is tough to say, but I think the most likely is fewer attractions and events that target that demographic. Haunt events are extremely profitable for most parks, but if they start to become too much of a liability, they very well could quickly become a thing of the past.

September 26, 2022 at 7:38 AM

" police were looking for a suspect in the shooting, which followed an altercation between two groups of young people..."

Gang violence. Period.

September 26, 2022 at 9:53 AM

"I don’t think the answer to what is going on is to ban guns or make it harder for law abiding citizens to own one."

Go try to buy a bazooka or a flame thrower, tell us if the ban on those weapons is working.

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