The man who shouted "Heil Hitler, Heil Trump" while holding the Nazi salute during a showing of Fiddler on the Roof in Baltimore, Maryland has apologized for the outburst, WBLA-TV reported.
"I just want everybody to know I am sincerely sorry," said Tony Derlunas, 58, who shouted the words from his seat in the balcony of Baltimore's Hippodrome Theatre during the intermission of the play's Wednesday night performance. "I opened my mouth and it was so wrong, and I know that now. 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."
Derlunas spoke to local media about the incident, who reported that the man was crying during the conversation, and refused to have his face filmed because he was too embarrassed about the ordeal.
Many interpreted his outburst as a pro-Nazi and pro-President Donald Trump statement, including Baltimore police, who investigated the incident as a hate-bias case. Derlunas claimed, however, that he is in fact anti-Trump and anti-hate, and explained that the motive behind his words were to compare Trump to Hitler because they both play into people's fears, but "it just came out wrong."
"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," Derlunas said, who also explained that his behavior may have been due to consuming several alcoholic beverages that night.As previously reported by the Inquisitr, police were called and Derlunas was escorted out of the theater by security personnel, but not before inducing fear and panic in other members of the audience. Samit Verma told the Baltimore Sun that he noticed people were considerably shaken up by the incident, some even in tears. Richard Scherr, who was also in the audience that night, said people were running out of the theater. "I'll be honest, I was waiting to hear a gunshot. I thought, 'Here we go,'" Scherr said. According to the police report, it was the final scene of the play before intermission, when a wedding was interrupted by a pogrom, that reminded Derlunas of the president and caused him to shout. He was not arrested, but was issued a stop ticket, which the Baltimore Sun explained was the "least severe measure" police can take in response to a complaint, and carries no fines or other penalties.
"As reprehensible as those words are, they are considered protected free speech because nobody was directly threatened," police spokesman Matt Jablow explained to the news outlet in an email.
WBLA-TV reported that Derlunas has since reached out to Jewish community groups and spoken to leaders in an attempt to make amends for his actions.