Cops on lookout for possible 'copycats' at local theaters

2012-07-20T20:05:00Z 2012-07-21T10:15:23Z Cops on lookout for possible 'copycats' at local theatersTimes Staff nwitimes.com
July 20, 2012 8:05 pm  • 

Local police departments are increasing patrols at region theaters in response to Friday's shooting rampage during a showing of "The Dark Knight Rises" at an Aurora, Colo., theater.

Schererville Police Chief David Dowling said police always are watchful for "copycats" following incidents like the shooting in Colorado.

He said officers will provide more attention at the two AMC theaters in Schererville.

Dowling also said the theaters hire off-duty Schererville officers to provide security there every day.

Hobart Deputy Police Chief Vance Thompson said the first thing he did Friday morning was call the AMC theater and Art Theater in Hobart to ask if they wanted additional officers stationed at the businesses.

"We will be making our presence known," Thompson said.

Thompson said he also provided Hobart officers with all of the scheduled times of showings of "The Dark Knight Rises" at the Hobart theaters.

According to AMC's Facebook page, staff at its theaters will not allow guests "in costumes that make other guests feel uncomfortable."

Face-covering masks and fake weapons also are not permitted, according to its Facebook page.

In Valparaiso, police Sgt. Mike Grennes said officials with Cinemark Theatre contacted the department about officers working off-duty security this weekend.

Portage police Sgt. Keith Hughes said officers work security at the Portage IMAX theater every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night.

The Lansing Cinema 8 theater has not asked the Lansing Police Department for any extra assistance for screenings of "The Dark Knight Rises," but Lansing police Detective Lt. Rick Slough said the theater usually uses off-duty police officers for security.

He said Lansing police would be prepared to help if an incident were to break out at the theater.

Sheryl Thomas, 58, of Sauk Village, said she heard about the shooting first thing Friday morning.

"When I was listening to the news, they said he booby-trapped his residence as well," she said before seeing "The Dark Knight Rises" at the AMC Theater in Schererville. "I think that makes affordable health care even more important. I believe that they may discover he had some type of mental problem.

"We did think about that incident when we came here. We also thought about a plan of action and we looked around for the exits."

Kyren Strong, 34, of Calumet City, and a friend went to see the movie at the AMC Theater in Schererville. He said the Colorado shooting was tragic, but it could have happened anywhere in the country, in a school, a theater or anywhere else.

"You can't stop going out to enjoy yourself because of what happened," he said.

Marissa Coronel, 43, of Chicago, was heading into the 5:30 p.m. showing of "The Dark Knight Rises" in Schererville with her husband and son.

"I have some concerns about copycats coming out," she said. "When you are out with your family, you don't expect something like that to happen. It's a scary thought, but we wanted to watch the movie. We'll just leave it in God's hands."

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