BALTIMORE, Md. (WBAL) – A man interrupted the intermission of “Fiddler on the Roof” in Baltimore with a pro-Nazi and pro-Trump salute.
Rich Scherr, a contributing sportswriter for The Baltimore Sun, said a man seated in the balcony of the Hippodrome Theatre on Wednesday night began shouting “Heil Hitler, Heil Trump” during intermission.
NBC affiliate WBAL-TV reports that a police report identified the man as Anthony Derlunas, 58, saying he told an officer, “The final scene before intermission reminded him of his hatred for (President) Donald Trump, which caused him to stand up and yell ‘Heil Hitler, Heil Trump.'”
Many people who attended the show tweeted about what happened, some saying they thought the next thing they would hear would be gunshots.
Derlunas told WBAL on Friday that he’s ashamed.
“I am so embarrassed and ashamed and disgusted with myself. I didn’t think at the time that my frustrations with President Trump, and I was trying to compare Trump to Hitler because he plays into the fears of the people and it just came out wrong. I realize now that it was so hurtful in how it came out anti-Semitic and hate. I have no hate in me. I never have had any hate in me,” he said.
Derlunas was escorted out and the show continued. Baltimore police said officers responded around 9:40 p.m. Wednesday to the Hippodrome for a call of disorderly conduct. Police said Derlunas was able to leave on his own accord and wasn’t arrested.
According to the police report, Derlunas’ girlfriend said he usually takes medication but he had not taken it Wednesday night. Derlunas also told the officer that he had been drinking heavily throughout the night, the police report states.
Security at the Hippodrome obtained Derlunas’ identity and issued a permanent ban against him. Police said Derlunas and his girlfriend left without further incident.
Police said Derlunas has no criminal record and no outstanding warrants.
“Fiddler on the Roof” is based on a Yiddish story and tells the story of a Jewish family persecuted in tsarist Russia.
The show’s stars talked about some of its universal themes Wednesday afternoon, before the incident.
“It’s so interesting that a show that is about such a specific group of people and a specific community, really does explore themes that are universal, like love, togetherness and community,” said Jesse Weil, one of the actors in the show.
“It’s not acceptable to have hate against the Jewish community. It’s not acceptable to have hate against any other community. We’re going to continue to partner with our other faith communities and other communities across Baltimore to stand up against hate,” said Howard Libit, executive director of the Baltimore Jewish Council. “‘Fiddler on the Roof’ has a very heavy Jewish crowd of people in attendance, some survivors of the Holocaust and their children. I’m sure you hear that and it brings up such powerful painful feelings.”
The Hippodrome released the following statement:
“Behavior like we saw during intermission at Wednesday evening’s performance is not, and will not be, tolerated. The Hippodrome’s on-site security team, along with our usher staff were able to remedy the situation and remove the offending audience member quickly, coordinating efforts with local police, who met the man as he was escorted out of the building.
“The France-Merrick Performing Arts Center takes the security and safety of its subscribers and patrons seriously. We employ a full team of professional security personnel, who are always on premise during live events to implement bag checks, provide screening and metal detection, and to monitor cameras throughout the venue.
“We apologize to those patrons who were affected by this unfortunate incident. 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.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.