Nine people have been injured after shoppers in Florida mistook the sound of popping balloons for gunfire at singer/actor Joey Fatone's new hot dog stand.
The former NSYNC star is launching FatOne's, his first fast food venture, in an Orlando mall, but when shoppers thought they heard shots fired on Thursday (25Aug16), a stampede ensued.
Four of the nine customers injured required hospitalisation.
Orange County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Deputy Rose Silva has since confirmed there were no actual gunshots, only the sounds of six large balloons being popped as part of a routine business inspection ahead of the food stand's grand opening on 10 September (16), which Fatone is expected to attend.
Deputies also noted that a warning was broadcast over the mall's PA system letting customers and workers know the test was imminent, but the sounds still caused pandemonium, and also triggered an alarm which led to further panic.
"People were bumping into things, getting stepped on, falling, children getting dragged by their arms," mall customer Mark Comer told WFTV, a local news station.
The incident took place just two months after a gunman opened fire in gay nightclub Pulse, killing 49 people and injuring more than 50.
Orlando resident Fatone, who is long known for being a celebrity foodie, previously produced the 2012-13 TV documentary series, My Favourite Recipe Rocks, and has often talked of his love for cooking.
"I think for me, some of it came naturally just from watching my dad. My dad was more of the cook than my mum was, so it's just handing it down from generation to generation. I just love to cook and have fun. And as performers, we love to cook, and we love to entertain people."
FatOne's is Fatone's first restaurant venture and specialises in premium 100 per cent beef hot dogs and Italian ice. Some of the specialties will include the Boy Bander, which features five mini hotdogs - a nod to Fatone's former NSYNC boyband members, which include Justin Timberlake.
There is no word on whether any of them will join Fatone at the grand opening to sample the goods in person.