Kentuckiana movie theaters step up security, Dark Knight fans undeterred by CO shooting


by Joe Arnold

Posted on July 20, 2012 at 12:16 PM

Updated Friday, Jul 20 at 6:35 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky (WHAS11) -- At least two Louisville-area movie theaters are stepping up security efforts after a gunman opened fire in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater early Friday, shooting 71 people at a premiere of The Dark Knight Rises.

None of the 11 local theaters showing the Batman movie changed their movie schedule.  4,400 theaters nationwide are showing the film.

"I just think that was so random," said John Hamilton as he arrived for an afternoon screening, "but you run the risk of copycatters."

Copycat concerns prompted the New York City Police Department to dispatch officers to Dark Knight showings.

The Louisville Metro Police Department, however, plans no extra patrols .  LMPD directed division commanders to drive by theaters and keep an eye out for any trouble, spokesman Dwight Mitchell told WHAS11.  

In the crammed parking lots for local midday screenings, there was no sign that the Colorado shootings are discouraging people from going to the movies.

"It's a tragedy," said Jared Tucker, "but I know in advance (my wife) bought these tickets and I really wanted to see this movie.  So we're not going to be scared and it's not going to keep us behind from the movie."

"It scared me," acknowledged Abby Tucker, "because I thought twice about coming. I definitely did."

Managers at both Rave Motion Pictures Stonybrook in Jeffersontown and the Great Escape theater in Clarksville tell WHAS11 they plan more frequent security checks inside the theaters.

"We take security very seriously," said Rave Motion Pictures Marketing Director Danny DiGiacomo, "and will continue to make every effort to ensure that our moviegoers are safe when they visit our theaters."

The parent company of Baxter Avenue Theaters in the Highlands says they are "horrified" by the shooting, stressing it's an isolated event caused by an "obviously deranged individual."

"We have safety and security measures," said Apex Entertainment's Leslie H. Aberson "and our employees are trained regularly to deal with such threats and emergencies.  The safety and security of our patrons is our highest priority along with creating an environment where they can experience an enjoyable movie going experience."

None of the local theater chains indicated any restrictions on wearing costumes at the theaters.

Yet, Kansas City, Mo based AMC Theatres said Friday it will ban costumes and face-covering masks.

Cinemark, the parent company of both Tinseltown USA in eastern Jefferson County and the Colorado theatre where the shooting happened is not commenting on its security procedures, instead focusing on the tragedy.

"Cinemark is deeply saddened about this tragic incident," said James Meredith, a Cinemark Vice-President in a statement released Friday morning. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and loved ones, our employees, and the Aurora community. 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," the statement concluded.

"I feel safe," said Pat Ott after watching the Batman movie, "But you always are scared that some nut's going to get an idea. But I'm sure this guy had it planned."

"If you're going to go anywhere you have to assume risks that something bad could happen," added Tyler Yann.  "Just walking outside of your door is dangerous any day of the week."

In a statement, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Louisville said he and his wife, Elaine Chao are heartbroken by the shootings in Aurora.

"This senseless massacre of so many innocent people gathered with friends and family in a movie theater reminds us not only of the great evil that exists in the hearts of some, but of the great and precious gift of life. I join all Americans today in prayer for the victims, their families and friends, and the wider Aurora community, and in heartfelt thanks to all the first responders who quickly responded at great risk to themselves."

"It is in moments like this that Americans have always drawn closer together and shown their great compassion and generosity to those touched by tragedy and loss. We hope that in the midst of the horror in Aurora, these qualities shine through once again and reach those who are suffering most. America is at prayer today for all who are affected by this tragedy,” the statement read.