Batman fans head to theaters despite mass shooting in Colorado -- Gazette.Net


This story was updated at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, July 20, 2012.

Josh Jenkins won’t be surprised if theaters beef up security or cancel showings in the wake of the theater shooting in Aurora, Colo.

“It’s their job to be sensitive to the issue and not put the movie above the victims,” said Jenkins, 21, of Derwood.

“At the same time, it’s our job not to be controlled or let paranoia overcome our lives.”

A dozen people died and many others were hurt as a gunman opened fire on the audience attending the opening of “The Dark Knight Rises.”

Even if people put aside their fears and see the movie, they still will have the Colorado shootings on their minds.

“That fear that anything could happen, another shooting can easily happen here, will be there,” said Leon Gardiner, 19, of Silver Spring.

People are going to be more skeptical about seeing midnight releases for fear of their safety, he said.

Batman fans lined up this morning at cinemas in the Washington, D.C., region.

Among them was Caitlin Meehan, 17, of Frederick, who was at the Regal Westview theater in Frederick at 10 a.m. to purchase tickets for an evening showing. On her way to buy tickets, her mother called to warn her about the shooting, but Caitlin still planned to attend.

“It didn’t hinder my enthusiasm,” she said. “Nothing like that has ever happened here, and nothing happened at the midnight show [in Frederick], but hopefully that doesn’t happen anywhere else.”

Police took the alleged gunman, James Holmes, 24, into custody shortly after the shooting in Aurora, Colo., according to reports from The Washington Post.

Montgomery County Police said they increased police presence at all movie theaters in the county after the shooting.

"We don't have any indication of any threats or anything like that, we're just out making sure people know they are safe and to reassure people in the wake of this tragedy,” said Angela Cruz, a county police spokeswoman.

In Prince George’s County, county police are increasing police presence around movie theaters.

“We are beefing up security, specifically for the event that caused this,” said county police spokeswoman Sgt. Sonya Rorls.

She said it’s unclear whether there could be people seeking to commit similar acts.

“The movie is out now and we’re being out there to step up presence because we surely want to protect the community,” Rorls said.

She said there is no specific number of officers that will be patrolling each county movie theater, but said there will be a significant presence.

“You will see the police. We could be anywhere, inside and outside,” she said.

A call to Cpl. Jennifer Bailey, spokeswoman for the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, was not immediately returned.

Daniel Broche, the manager of Frederick’s Regal Westview, referred The Gazette to a corporate media representative. A call to corporate was not immediately returned.

Regal Entertainment Group later released the following statement, “We are profoundly saddened by the tragedy that occurred at a Denver area theatre and are concerned for the victims and their families. 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.”

Eric Levitown, 22, of Frederick, said he heard about the shooting before arriving at the theater at 10:15 a.m. for the 10:40 a.m. screening and wondered what the shooter’s motive was.

“I hope that doesn’t happen anywhere else,” he said. “It’s crazy. Completely surprising. ... Hopefully other theaters take some precautions and other people who go have a better head on their shoulders.”

Myersville resident Ryan Blickenstaff, 26, said after hearing reports of the mass shooting he was concerned for the victims and their families.

“It’s just sickening,” he said. “It’s just heartbreaking. It rips you apart to think about the evil in this world.”

In Montgomery County, moviegoers waiting for the 12:50 show at the AMC Loews Rio Cinemas 18 in Gaithersburg expressed shock and sadness over the shootings.

“[The shooting] was bizarre. It gave me pause before coming to the movies,” said Chege Njoroge of Germantown as he bought his ticket from an electronic machine.

Several patrons spoke about the need to increase security. However, Suzi Cook of Gaithersburg was resigned.

“If someone wants to shoot someone they will find a way to smuggle a gun in,” she said.

“We are stunned and disgusted,” said Joanna Kosmaoglou, 19, of Potomac.

Staff Writers Jeremy Arias, Scott Maucione and Daniel J. Gross contributed to this report.