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Shooting raises awareness of theater security

Posted July 20, 2012
Updated July 21, 2012

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— Those who had catching a movie among their weekend plans may be having second thoughts after a lone gunman opened fire overnight in a Colorado theater, killing a dozen people and injuring dozens more.

Police in Aurora, Colo., say James Holmes, 24, entered a midnight showing of the Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises," in tactical armor and made his way up the aisle, firing as he went, saying nothing. Police, ambulances and emergency crews swarmed on the scene after frantic calls started flooding the 911 switchboard, officials said.

By mid-day, the FBI was questioning Holmes, who told them he had a cache of booby-trapped explosives in his apartment.

While some theaters and police around the U.S. stepped up security at daytime showings of "The Dark Knight Rises," most Triangle-area communities were not planning any additional law enforcement presence.

Theaters in Cary and Fayetteville hire off-duty officers for security, officials with those towns said. Neither police department had plans to add to that number Friday.

Capt. Patrick Niemann, of the Raleigh Police Department's Southwest District, said all officers with theaters and other high-density areas on their regular patrols would be extra vigilant this weekend.

"Our patrol officers and our patrol element are obviously very cognizant of the events in Colorado, and we will increase patrol around the more densely populated areas however, the specific security within the theaters – that's up to the individual establishment," he said.

All Raleigh police officers are trained in "active shooter" situations to first stop the threat," Niemann said, including going inside a building to get to and stop a shooter.

Theater security Some Triangle theaters beef up security following Colo. shooting

"We train frequently. We have state-mandated training, but on top of that, we pride ourselves with infusing our training curriculum with significantly more than what the state requires," he said. "We do prepare for tragic incidents such as Aurora."

Big cities bulk up police presence

The New York City Police Department was posting officers at about 40 theaters around the city that were showing the film. The increased security was a precaution against potential copycat shooters, and also meant to reassure moviegoers.

In Washington, the Homeland Security Department held a conference call with officials from the commercial, entertainment and shopping mall industries to discuss what security measures they could take to prevent something like this from happening again.

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.

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." AMC Theaters said it is "actively working with local law enforcement in communities throughout the nation and under the circumstances, we are reaching out to all of our theaters to review our safety and security procedures."


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  • weasel2 Jul 23, 2012

    As with all tragic situations, people want to stop everything from ever happening. Thats the goal of terrorism, make the common person afraid of their shadow and stop normal daily activites. As long as humans are able to think there will be those that commit crimes and their will be victims. Laws are inplace to catch most evil doers but not all.

  • Ex-Republican Jul 23, 2012

    "Only in the right wing mind can a horrible tragedy involving a mass shooting be used to try to justify loosening gun laws even further. Sick, just SICK!" GEOSOL

    Only soul-less people would use this tragedy to promote their political agenda. Even Obama learned from his past mistakes and backed off. But I guess some people are Sick, just SICK!

  • Skywatch_NC Jul 23, 2012

    Mod, would you please post my earlier comment from today. I was just defending my stance with regard to theaters probably would start on beefing up on security.

  • Skywatch_NC Jul 23, 2012

    ">Wonder if theaters now will hire security guards to do searches in handbags, purses, and frisks on movie patrons?"

    Do you think that they would have found the shotgun, four rifles, and two handguns in his purse?

    smbiz, of course I know that James Holmes wouldn't have a purse. I was referring to that now since the massacre ...wouldn't be surprised to start seeing theaters beefing up security in some ways with the aforementioned post I put up on Friday. For e.g. women could conceal a handgun in their purses.

  • kermit60 Jul 23, 2012

    soyousay: According to you all the people in the theater were sensible because they were not armed. A lot of good being sensible did them. Did you ever consider that is why he chose the theater as a terget in the first. A large number of (following the law) unarmed people.

  • mmtlash Jul 20, 2012

    oh lord they are going to bring out the full body scanners next.... it will be like going to the airport

  • geosol Jul 20, 2012

    Only in the right wing mind can a horrible tragedy involving a mass shooting be used to try to justify loosening gun laws even further. Sick, just SICK!

  • ifcdirector Jul 20, 2012

    Allow concealed carry permit holders to carry in theaters. There are far more of them than there are police officers and you walk amongst them everyday. What is the difference if they step off a sidewalk outside and then into the theater?

  • lessismore Jul 20, 2012

    People have been killed with a pencil......should we outlay pencils? Or baseball bats, or golf clubs. Or cars......guns don't kill people...people kill people. When politicians start trying to control guns...they fear the voters....Thomas Jefferson said beware of any politician who tried to take your gun away from you.....that politician has something to fear.

  • justincaseur2 Jul 20, 2012

    While we are on the topic or rights...owning a gun is a right.

    Driving a car is a privelage. I'm tired of the "hit and run" driving mentality in Raleigh. Death on wheels, every day I drive downtown death comes knocking as people try to "race" to be ahead of everyone else...time to outlaw cars, or at least make car drivers be as responsible as gun owners.

    I'm a gun owner and I'm a lot more scared of driving around here than I am of people, even criminals, that have guns.