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January 02, 2020

New Jersey man lights fireworks for friend's proposal, causes panic at movie theater

Investigations Fireworks
Howell Township movie theater fireworks Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

Nathan Sanders, 23, of Lakewood, was arrested and charged after setting off fireworks and causing panic at a nearby movie theater in Howell Township.

A man who set off fireworks to celebrate a friend's engagement and as a result caused panic among people at local theater in Howell Township, Monmouth County, has been arrested.

Theater-goers at the Xscape Theatre thought the explosions from the fireworks were gunfire and called 911 on Wednesday night, police said. Officers arrived and evacuated the premises to investigate the situation. No victims or remnants of shots fired were found at the theater.

The manager of the theater reportedly confronted a man outside who was lighting the fireworks, and firework remnants were found during the investigation. 

Howell police said Nathan Sanders, 23, of Lakewood, told officers he had lit the fireworks following a friend's proposal outside the ClimbZone, a rock climbing gym adjacent to the movie theater. 

Police noted that Sanders did not intend to cause panic. “Obviously was a very poor decision rather than an overt act," police said. 

Sanders is charged with fireworks infraction and disorderly conduct, police said. He has since been released from custody. 

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