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Police: More than a dozen trampled in Chicago July 4 stampede

A witness at a nearby restaurant described the scene after the fireworks at Chicago's Navy Pier as 'pure chaos.'
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Police said a false report of gunfire set off a stampede that trampled more than a dozen people at Chicago's annual July 4 fireworks display Thursday at Navy Pier, where thousands of revelers crowded the Lake Michigan shore to watch the show.

Three others were stabbed when a fight broke after a group of young males flashed gang signs. Two teenage boys, ages 14 and 15, and a 30-year-old man suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

Police spokeswoman Kellie Bartoli said police were searching Friday for two male suspects in the stabbings.

Chicago Police Spokesman Rocco Alito said officers believe that after that altercation someone threw firecrackers at the pier and others yelled "gun" or "shots fired," spurring a "stampede" that injured 14 people. They were taken to hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries, Alioto said, adding that initial reports of gunfire were inaccurate.

Rachel Schar, who's a server at the waterfront restaurant Harry Caray's Tavern, said that during ensuing panic crowds of visitors swarmed the restaurant for at least 10 minutes to escape what they believed was an active shooter at the pier.

"It was pure chaos," the 22-year-old told the Chicago Tribune. "I literally thought I was going to die."

Schar said she was collecting credit cards from a party table when she heard screaming, shoes rapidly pounding the pavement and shouts about a gun and people stabbed outside. She said she was tackled during that pandemonium and then sprinted upstairs into an office.