Movie security increases after shootings

AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes
In this July 19, 2012 photo shows Los Angeles County Sheriff Calvillo, left, withholding toy guns from Batman fans from Indiana, Brian Haughs, 28, right, dressed as the character Two-Face, and John Werskey, dressed as Commissioner James Gordon, while waiting for the midnight premiere of "The Dark Knight Rises," at Universal CityWalk in Los Angeles. A gunman wearing a gas mask set off an unknown gas and fired into the crowded movie theater in Aurora, Colo., Friday July 20, 2012, killing 12 people and injuring at least 50 others, authorities said.
Friday, July 20, 2012 12:59 PM
Last updated 1:46 PM
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Some theaters and police around the U.S. stepped up security at daytime showings of the new Batman movie Friday after the massacre in Colorado, and while many fans were undeterred by the tragedy, others were nervous about going to see the film.

Two police officers were stationed outside the AMC theater in New York’s Times Square, which had showings of the “The Dark Knight Rises” beginning every 20 minutes. Later in the day, the officers gave way to a police cruiser that was parked out front with an officer in it.

Jimmy Baker, 40, of Harlem had been waiting since about 9:45 a.m. for the 12:50 p.m. show. “I just felt bad for the people that had to be traumatized by this entire event,” he said. But “I didn’t feel like it had any kind of effect on me. ... I’m just here to enjoy a good movie.”

Stephanie Suriel, 21, of Brooklyn, waiting outside the same theater, said her mother was slightly concerned about her going to see the film. But “I’m not nervous at all because I really want to see that movie.”

Still, just to be safe, she said: “I’m going to sit in the back.”

At the Regal Gallery Place multiplex in downtown Washington, moviegoers trickled into an 11 a.m. showing. Theater employees searched patrons’ bags and purses while taking their tickets.

“I’m believing that it’s not related so much to the movie,” Steve Glaude, a 57-year-old federal employee, said of the shooting. “The movie may have been a trigger. It may not have been. We don’t know. I don’t think it was hero or villain emulation.”

In Aurora, Colo., a gunman wearing a gas mask set off a gas canister and fired into a crowded theater in the Denver suburb at a midnight opening of the movie, killing 12 people and injuring at least 50 others, authorities said.

Christine Cooley, who works for the University of Florida at a campus installation near Tampa, Fla., said she and her 15-year-old daughter were stunned to wake up to the news. Cooley said her daughter has sworn off going to the movies.

“It’s tainted the movie completely for her,” Cooley said. “It’s summertime. That’s a big movie time for teenagers. That movie is off the list now. Movie theaters in general are off her summer to-do list because of that.”

Cooley said she tried to explain that the shooting was random and not an indication of security at theaters in general, “but I can see where she’s coming from. Why put yourself in harm’s way?”

At the United Artists Riverview Stadium 17 in Philadelphia, a steady stream of people headed in for morning showings of “The Dark Knight Rises.” Staff members said that there was extra security, but that that was normal for big movies — and not because of the shooting in Colorado.

Neal Mates, 38, a professed “film geek,” said: “Shootings can happen anywhere. ... I think it’s silly to blame the film.”

Executives of St. Louis-based Wehrenberg Theatres had discussions before dawn with managers of its 15 cinemas in Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota and Iowa, spokeswoman Kelly Hoskins said. She said the company feels comfortable with security already in place and plans no changes. She said she hopes other theater chains don’t panic and cancel showings.

“That just wouldn’t be good,” she said. “It’s like a terrorist attack — you don’t want them to think we’re all scared.”

The National Association of Theater Owners said in a statement that its members are “working closely with local law enforcement agencies and reviewing security procedures.”


Associated Press writers Alex Katz and Christy Lemire in New York City, Ben Nuckols in Washington, Patrick Walters in Philadelphia and Jim Suhr in St. Louis contributed to this report.

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rational thought trumps emotion
rational thought trumps emotion 07/20/12 - 02:13 pm
And yet....

"Policies" in place at local theatres (GA Theatre Company in Evans) within the CSRA attempt to prohibit off duty CSRA law enforcement officers from wearing their weapon within the theatre. Not a problem for me, I will just stick with RedBox.

Dixieman 07/20/12 - 04:24 pm
Senseless to panic

These are random events and staying huddled at home is silly.

Just My Opinion
Just My Opinion 07/20/12 - 04:41 pm
I feel very sorry for the

I feel very sorry for the young girl who has sworn off going to movies because of this! Sounds to me like the mother might be feeding into it..."why put yourself in harm's way?". Well, that's the problem, mom. "Harm" can come anywhere and at any time. Oh, well. We went and saw Batman was GREAT, btw...and I asked the concession girl if her manager had gone over any crowd-control instructions just in case there were some sort of catastrophe that called for an evacuation, and the young thing just blankly stared at me. I think the theaters should at least take this oppurtunity to teach their employees what to do in case there is a fire or something that necessitates evacuation. Wouldn't hurt.

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