A Maryland man who yelled “Heil Hitler, Heil Trump” at a Wednesday “Fiddler on the Roof” performance at the Hippodrome Theatre in Baltimore, scaring some audience members into thinking an anti-Semitic mass shooting was a real possibility, has tearfully apologized.
Although 58-year-old Tony Derlunas was initially assumed by some to be a neo-Nazi yelling threats, he has revealed himself to be anti-Donald Trump. Derlunas, in an interview with WBAL-TV, declined to show his face and said he was sorry for his “stupidity.”
“I just want everybody to know I am sincerely sorry. I opened my mouth and it was so wrong, and I know that now,” he said. “In the moment, it was just my frustration. I don’t know what I was thinking. I am so ashamed. My heart goes out to all those that I ruined their night, to everybody that was affected by my stupidity.”
People have compared the outburst to yelling “fire” in a crowded movie theater and causing panic — that is, uttering speech that is not protected by the First Amendment.
As Law&Crime’s Ronn Blitzer noted, “The anti-Semitic nature of the exclamation caused alarm during the staging of the show about a Jewish family facing persecution in Russia in 1905, particularly after the recent synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh that claimed 11 lives.”
Delunas said his outburst “just came out wrong.”
“I’m so embarrassed and ashamed and disgusted with myself. I didn’t think at the time about my frustrations with President Trump and I was trying to compare Trump to Hitler because he plays into the fears of people and it just came out wrong,” he said. “I didn’t mean anything like that, but I realize now how it came off and how it scared those people. I’m so sorry.”
The yelling was alarming enough that a person called 911. Derlunas was promptly escorted out of the theater and will not be allowed back. He earned a lifetime ban.
Derlunas reportedly told police he was drinking heavily that night and claimed this played a role in the outburst.
[Image via WBAL-TV screengrab]
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