Cities vow to increase theater security after shooting
Several law enforcement agencies throughout the country have said security of patrons at theaters is a top priority this weekend. (Source: Wiki Commons/Scehardt)
(RNN) – The alleged shooter that killed 12 people in an Aurora, CO, movie theater was dressed as Batman's arch-nemesis, The Joker, according to New York City's top police official.
New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said during a news conference that James Holmes, the suspect in the shootings at the Century 16 Theater, had his hair painted red when police arrested him. Kelly made the comments after talking to police officials in Colorado.
"He had his hair painted red; he said he was ‘The Joker,' obviously the enemy of Batman," Kelly said.
Kelly also said that his department would increase security at New York City theaters.
AMC, which operates more than 300 theaters in the U.S., said it will not change its scheduling for shows at this time.
The company will, however, increase its security and take extra precautions for upcoming shows, especially with guests dressed in costumes.
"We will not allow any guests into our theaters in costumes that make other guests feel uncomfortable, and we will not permit face-covering masks or fake weapons inside our building," AMC said in a statement. "We are taking necessary precautions to ensure our guests who wish to enjoy a movie this weekend can do so with as much peace of mind as possible in these circumstances."
Although several law enforcement authorities are confident the suspect, 24-year-old James Holmes, acted alone and is not tied to any other criminal activity, they are not taking any chances.
Several cities, even those that already dispatch patrol officers in addition to any security the theaters employ, are keeping an especially watchful eye movie showings this weekend.
"Our officers will be on a high state of alert and will be out in full force for the opening of the Batman movie here in Huntsville," said Harry L. Hobbs, Ph.D., communications director for the Huntsville Police Department in Alabama. "We have contingency plans for any issues that may arise. Several theaters have hired off-duty police officers for the movie opening, as well."
Police in Montgomery, AL, said although measures are already in place for security at both theaters in the city, they will increase patrols this weekend.
In Missouri, the Associated Press has reported that St. Louis County police will dispatch more officers to theaters this weekend. Police spokesman Rick Eckhart said officers recently received training to handle similar situations to the one in Aurora.
Officials at the New Haven Police Department in Connecticut said they will give "special attention" to the Criterion Cinema theater in their city.
"A presence will certainly be noticed," New Haven Police Department spokesman David Hartman said. "We are going to do what we can to make sure people feel as safe as possible."
However, some officials feel what they are already doing to protect movie-goers is enough.
Many theaters in South Carolina already employ off-duty officers to patrol on the weekends.
They feel that is enough to ensure the safety of patrons.
Lt. Tony Ivey of Spartanburg County said local theaters have no plans at this time to increase security based upon "one isolated incident that took place several states away."
Cinemark, the company that owns the Century 16 Theater where the shootings happened, released a statement in support of the victims Friday.
"Cinemark is deeply saddened about this tragic incident. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and loved ones, our employees, and the Aurora community," read the statement. "We are grateful for the quick and professional reaction of all local law enforcement and emergency responders. Cinemark is working closely with the Aurora Police Department and local law enforcement."
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