LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — As far as pranks go, this one would be considered an epic failure.
An Orange County man accused of being involved in a movie theater prank involving a leaf-blower has been charged.
Authorities said Davis entered the Edwards Big Newport 6 cinema near Fashion Island on Aug. 8 without paying admission and opened the emergency exit door of a theater during a showing of the thriller “The Gift.”
Around that time, someone entered entered the theater and revved a leafblower, which triggered panic among the patrons inside.
Several people suffered injuries, including a broken toe from being knocked to the ground, as fearful moviegoers who scattered toward the exit, thinking the leafblower was a weapon.
Karina Wolfe was one of the patrons who thought her life was in danger when she was watching the movie with her boyfriend.
“Both my boyfriend and I believed that this was a person with a weapon, probably a gun, and fully expected shooting to start at any moment,” Wolfe told the Daily Pilot.
“We crawled as fast as we could on our knees,” she added.
One father whose daughter was injured during the incident spoke to KCAL9’s Brittney Hopper.
“Getting that call in the middle of the night, having to go to the hospital and having to see what my daughter went through seems a lot more horrifying than just a misdemeanor,” Chad Fults said.
“My daughter’s a tiny woman, and the next thing you know, everybody is stampeding over her,” he added.
The prank came about two weeks after a man in Lafayette, La., pulled out a handgun in a theater and opened fire on the the audience, killing two and wounding nine, and also while the trial for Aurora, Colo., theater shooter James Holmes was underway.
Newport Beach Police said that after the prank, there were at least four persons of interest in the case, three of whom are minors.
Authorities said Davis and the three minors turned themselves in shortly after investigators posted surveillance photos of them taken at an Irvine In-N-Out Burger, where the group is believed to have pointed the leaf blower at bystanders earlier on the evening of the theater prank.
If convicted, Davis could face a maximum sentence of a year in jail. He is expected to be arraigned Nov. 18 in Orange County Superior Court. He is not in custody.
It is unclear whether any of the minors will face criminal charges.
(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)