Despite Shooting, DC Crowds Line Up for 'Dark Knight Rises'
"I'm not going to stop doing what I usually do," said one moviegoer, although another said, "It's a little scary." D.C. Police say they'll pay extra attention to theaters this weekend in the wake of a deadly shooting spree at a Colorado cinema.
News4's Seth Lemon reported long lines for an 11 a.m. showing of "The Dark Knight Rises" at the Uptown Theater in Cleveland Park Saturday.
At the Regal Potomac Yard in Alexandria, security personnel made regular patrols while Alexandria Police vehicles were parked outside and a large, stationary security camera was pointed at the theater entrance. Police cars were also seen in front of the Regal Gallery Place in downtown D.C.
Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger told News4's Tracee Wilkins that officers will be patrolling near theaters showing "The Dark Knight Rises" and in nearby parking lots on Friday.
D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier told News4 that her department "will ensure that we have officers paying close attention to the theaters throughout the weekend." D.C. police said they have no threats targeting the region but are taking extra precautions to avoid copycats, according to the Associated Press. Assistant Police Chief Lamar Greene said moviegoers can expect to see more police patrols around theaters at least through the weekend, especially around theaters showing "The Dark Knight Rises."
Police in Baltimore, Baltimore County and Prince George's County said they're taking similar precautions, the AP reported. The Loudoun County Sheriff's Office also plans enhanced presence at movie theaters as a precaution.
The Associated Press reported that at the Regal Gallery Place multiplex, 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."
AMC Theatres released a statement saying that they "are terribly saddened by the random act of violence in Aurora" and that "for the safety and security of our guests and associates, we are actively working with local law enforcement in communities throughout the nation and under the circumstances we are reaching out to all of our theatres to review our safety and security procedures."
AMC also said it will not permit moviegoers wearing "costumes that make other guests feel uncomfortable," masks that cover faces or fake guns.
Regal Entertainment Group issued the following statement: "The security and safety of our guests and staff is always our number one priority. As is our custom, we will continue to monitor the situation and adjust our security needs as necessary. In the meantime, our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families."
News4's Richard Jordan reported at about 10:15 a.m. that people were lining up outside the Uptown Theater in Cleveland Park for the next showing of "Dark Knight."
Other theaters around the country are taking steps to make sure a copycat doesn't strike.
"As a precaution against copycats and to raise the comfort levels among movie patrons in the wake of the horrendous shooting in Colorado, the New York City Police Department is providing coverage at theaters where the 'The Dark Knight Rises' is playing in the five boroughs," Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said in a statement.
The Associated Press reported that 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 told the AP. 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, told the AP that 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."
Overseas, the Paris premiere of the new Batman movie has been canceled. Workers were pulling down the red carpet display in front of a movie theater on the French capital's famed Champs-Elysees Avenue on Friday afternoon. Some could be seen carrying away a large mask that had adorned the facade of the theater.
A 24-year-old suspect is in custody in connection with the Colorado shootings, NBC News reported.
The gunman stood at the front of the theater, threw some type of gas then fired into the crowd at about 12:30 a.m. MDT at a multiplex theater in a mall in Aurora, police said.
Two federal officials, from different agencies, identified the suspect as James Holmes, born Dec. 13, 1987, NBC News’ Pete Williams reported.
Stay with News4 and NBCWashington.com for more information.