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Chaos erupts in crowd at NYC 'Top Model' auditions

Three Bronx residents were arrested and charged with starting the pandemonium that erupted outside a Manhattan audition for "America's Next Top Model" on Saturday afternoon, according to New York City Police.

A swarm of aspiring models and their friends had lined up outside the Park Central New York Hotel on West 55th Street in Manhattan on Saturday to audition for the popular show that is hosted and executive produced by Tyra Banks. Around 5 p.m., an overheated BMW was headed west on street with smoke streaming from under its hood, according to a New York Police Department spokesman.

Those waiting on the line began to panic, fearing the car was on the verge of exploding, according to the spokesman. Many pushed down the police barricades that lined the sidewalk, and some fell to the ground and wound up pinned beneath the barriers, according to the spokesman.

Around the same time, three people were seen throwing police barriers and "urging others to be disorderly and to riot," according to the spokesman.

Six people received minor injuries during the melee.

Police arrested Michael Edwards, 24, Vanessa Quinones, 20, and Clem Clemmons, 40, all of 1930 Webster Ave. in the Bronx, and charged them with inciting a riot and disorderly conduct. Clemmons and Quinones were also charged with resisting arrest.

Authorities shut down the audition afterward, saying it wasn't properly organized.

"It was pretty scary," Jessica Paravati told WNYW-TV. She said she was caught up in the pandemonium after having waited in line overnight, hoping for a shot at stardom on the reality show.

The hotel's phone rang unanswered yesterday. Representatives for The CW Network, which airs the show, released a statement saying it was working with authorities investigating the incident. The agent and publicist for Tyra Banks didn't immediately return telephone calls.

Banks has said she created the show to counter stereotypes about beauty, and Saturday's auditions were open only to women no taller than 5-foot-7, shorter than the industry's conventions.

Open tryouts also are being held this month in several other cities, including Dallas, Chicago and Los Angeles. The current season began March 4.

At least one would-be contestant in the Manhattan throng said the tumult wouldn't stop her from trying again. "This is my dream, so I'm not going to give up," Gifty Asika told WNBC-TV.

This story was supplemented with an Associated Press report.

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