NEW YORK (CBS)
Three people were arrested and six others were hurt on Saturday after bedlam broke out while contestants were waiting to audition for "America's Next Top Model" in Manhattan.
"It was scary," aspiring model Sofia Tancredi said. "The girls were crying."
Officials said the chaos Saturday afternoon, involving hundreds of people outside the Park Central New York hotel, was prompted by smoke coming from an overheated car nearby that caused someone to yell "fire," sparking a model stampede at the Midtown hotel.
Mere moments later, someone yelled about a man with a gun, leading to more running and screaming chaos. The panic left the street outside the hotel littered with the would-be models' shoes and clothing, according to news reports.
"People were screaming 'fire,' people were screaming 'guns,'" aspiring model Imani said.
"Somebody screamed 'bomb,' so everybody panicked," Tasha McKethan said.
Three people were arrested on disorderly conduct charges, police said. Authorities also shut down the audition, saying it wasn't properly organized.
"No one came outside to explain anything to us," Palisade Park resident Jessica Paravati said. "We've been standing here since last night, we're out here for a reason, we want this – truly, truly want this."
Tancredi and friends feel lucky they can walk away from a melee where there was a lack of model behavior. They also want another chance.
"We want another date," she said.
Of the six reportedly injured, two were taken to Cornell University Hospital. The other four refused medical attention.
"We got trampled over," Bronx resident Lisa Johnson says. "Do you know how many people lost their purses, got hurt tonight?"
All injuries are said to be minor.
The FDNY said four injured people declined treatment, while two others were taken to a hospital. Their conditions weren't immediately available.
The clean-up is underway, and only a handful of the young women remain - their hopes trampled, and their questions unanswered.
The phone rang unanswered at the hotel. Representatives for The CW Network, which airs the reality show, say they are cooperating with police, but wouldn't say when - or if - the auditions would be rescheduled.
The popular reality show is hosted by supermodel Tyra Banks, who also serves as its executive producer. The current season began March 4.
Her agent and publicist didn't immediately return telephone calls.
Banks has said she created the show to counter stereotypes about beauty, and Saturday's auditions were open only to women no taller than 5-foot-7, shorter than the industry's conventions.
Open tryouts also are being held this month in several other cities around the country, including Dallas, Chicago and Los Angeles.
Posted by Ryan Christof at 6:14 PM