Several minutes into intermission during a musical about Jewish traditions, a man stood up, raised him arm in a Nazi salute and started to shout.
Members of the audience said the man called out "Heil Hitler!" and "Heil Trump!" at the Wednesday-night performance of "Fiddler on the Roof" at Hippodrome Theatre in Baltimore.
"People started running," Rich Scherr, who was in the audience, told The Washington Post. "The next thing I expected to hear was gunshots, frankly."
The incident occurred just weeks after 11 people were gunned down at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history. The alleged gunman, Robert Bowers, is accused of saying that he wanted to "kill Jews" while he was in the synagogue.
Scherr posted a video online Wednesday, showing people at the Baltimore theater standing, some shouting to "get out!" After the salute, he said, "a lot of people started heading toward the exits."
"I think with everything that's been happen lately, people were scared," Scherr said, referring to the synagogue massacre and the Nov. 7 mass shooting at a bar in Southern California. "People were saying that their hearts were beating really fast and there were a lot of 'What's wrong with this world?' kind of comments."
"Fiddler on the Roof," set in a Russian village in the early 1900s, follows a Jewish milkman named Tevye as he watches his children grow up and enter a world shrouded in anti-Semitism.
The alarming disruption at Wednesday's performance came as the first act ended, showing a wedding for one of Tevye's daughters.
Audience member Samit Verma, who said he was watching the musical with his wife, told The Washington Post that he heard a man shouting in the audience and then saw "a chaotic scene" unfolding in the crowd.
He said in an email that at first he could not tell what the man was saying, but "as more people exited the main theater I could clearly see him making a Hitler salute and yelling 'Heil Hitler.'"
Eventually, security escorted the man from the theater, audience members said.
A Baltimore Police Department spokeswoman said police were called at 9:40 p.m. about an incident at the theater involving a disorderly person. The man who shouted in the audience was escorted from the theater and then left without incident, police said.
There was no arrest and no incident report was filed in the case, the authorities said. The man has not been publicly identified.
Anti-Semitic incidents spiked 57 percent in 2017 in the United States, according to the Anti-Defamation League. The group's annual report, released in February, identified 1,986 examples of anti-Semitic harassment, vandalism and assault in 2017 - the largest single-year increase and the second-highest number since it started tracking the data in the 1970s, The Post reported.
New FBI data released this week showed that reported hate crimes in America rose 17 percent last year, with an even larger increase in anti-Semitic attacks.
Jonathan A. Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, said the new FBI report "provides further evidence that more must be done to address the divisive climate of hate in America. That begins with leaders from all walks of life and from all sectors of society forcefully condemning anti-Semitism, bigotry, and hate whenever it occurs."
After the Wednesday night incident at "Fiddler on the Roof," Hippodrome Theatre said such behavior "will not be tolerated."
"We apologize to those patrons who were affected by this unfortunate incident," the statement said. "Our venue has a proud tradition of providing shared experiences to people from all walks of life, right in the heart of this wonderfully diverse city, and we intend to continue that tradition in the spirit of bringing people together, not dividing them."
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