Washington gay pride: 'Gun threat' sparks panic at parade

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Media caption,

People flee after believing gunshots had been fired

A man is due to appear in court after allegedly causing a stampede at a gay pride parade in the US which left seven people needing hospital treatment.

The man, named in US media as 38-year-old Aftabjit Singh, allegedly waved a BB gun, which fires small metal ball projectiles, in the capital Washington on Saturday.

A number of people reported hearing gunshots before the crowd fled.

However, officials maintain there is no evidence that shots were fired.

A police report - cited by the Associated Press news agency - said the man took the weapon out after noticing someone "hitting his significant other".

He has been charged with illegal possession of a BB gun, carrying a dangerous weapon and disorderly conduct. He is due in court on Monday.

Elizabeth Hernandez, 19, told AP that she heard a "pop, pop" during the parade. She said she ran, was pushed into a restaurant and hid in the bathroom.

Some eyewitnesses said the sound might have been that of metal barriers being knocked over.

Images have circulated on social media, showing crowds running around the city's Dupont Circle neighbourhood.

The seven people taken to hospital had non-life-threatening injuries which they suffered during the panic, police said.

Image source, EPA

Gay pride is celebrated around the world in June, with some parades organised on or around 28 June, the anniversary of a police raid on the Stonewall Inn gay bar in New York City.

During the raid, in 1969, the bar's patrons fought back and inspired the modern LGBT rights movement.