Proposal fireworks mistaken for gunfire, causing panic at New Jersey movie theater
© Howell Township Police Department

A New Jersey man helping a friend with a marriage proposal faces criminal charges after he lit fireworks that were mistaken for gunfire, causing panic among patrons at a movie theater on Wednesday night.

Nathan Sanders “lit off the fireworks while a friend was proposing marriage” inside a ClimbZone climbing facility adjacent to the Xscape Theater in Lakewood, according to the Howell Township Police Department.

Customers inside the theater began calling 911 after they mistook the fireworks outside for gunshots they believed were coming from inside. The patrons were evacuated and police officers arrived on scene to find remnants of discharged fireworks.

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“There was no intent to cause panic to theatre patrons. Obviously this was a very poor decision rather than an overt act,” Howell Township wrote in a statement.

Sanders, 23, was arrested and charged with fireworks infraction and disorderly conduct, according to records obtained by the Ashbury Park Press. He has since been released from custody.