TUKWILA, Wash. -- A lawyer for self-proclaimed YouTube star Deshae Frost says his client feared for his own safety during an appearance Saturday at Westfield Southcenter in Tukwila.
Frost went to the shopping center Saturday for a meet-and-greet with his followers, attorney Cleodis Floyd said Sunday in an emailed statement to KOMO News.
A large group of teens and young adults began running for the exits, which prompted fears that a shooting or some other dangerous event was underway, police said.
No shots were fired and no one was hurt.
"We were going down the escalator and we heard a really big commotion of people running," said witness Jordyn Ripley. "We heard loud voices. And everyone started running in different directions. And so me and my friend just stopped. We didn’t know what to do. Automatically thought it was a shooting, just because of the commotion that was going on.
Cell phone video captured by several witnesses showed a large group of kids and young adults running and yelling outside.
Ripley says several minutes passed before she learned it was likely a false alarm.
"At first it was really scary just thinking it could have been a shooter or someone was in danger," Ripley told KOMO News. "And then after hearing that, it was just like 'Okay.'"
Floyd said his client's meet-and-greet turned out to be larger than Frost expected.
Frost, who has more than one million followers on YouTube and Instagram, posted a note to his Instagram page overnight to apologize for what happened.
"I held that meet and greet to interact with y'all and when it got overwhelming I got scared of my life because I'm new to this and I'm only so much of a human being and started running to leave," the post read in part.
The Law Office of Cleodis Floyd released this statement to KOMO News on Sunday afternoon about what happened:
My client Deshae Frost is a popular social media influencer with millions of followers. Part of what makes him so popular is his ability to engage with fans. Like other influencers, Mr. Frost has held successful meet and greets in shopping malls across the United States. As promised, Mr. Frost showed up yesterday to Southcenter Mall for a meet and greet which was larger than expected. As the crowed continued to grow and intensify, Mr. Frost quickly left Southcenter Mall as he began to fear for his own safety. To be clear, it was never his intent to incite a riot. He is deeply disturbed by some of the rumors associated with his meet and greet. Mr. Frost does not condone violence and he is sympathetic to anyone affected by yesterday’s events.
“I just think that’s a horrible thing for a person to do especially in a crowded mall like that," said witness Bryce West.
Frost did not have a permit for an event or ask for permission from the mall, Tukwila police said.
The police department’s Major Crimes Unit is looking into what happened, a department spokesman told KOMO News on Sunday. Depending on what they find, it’s possible that charges could be filed, the spokesman added.
"He probably did not intend for that to happen, but just with what’s going on today, anything can happen," Ripley said.