WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — Police in the District of Columbia and elsewhere in the region say they’re stepping up security around movie theaters after a Colorado shooting that left 12 dead and injured more than 50 adults and children.
Police in D.C. and Maryland say they have no threats targeting the region but, along with law enforcement officials around the country, are taking precautions after a gunman in a gas mask opened fire during a midnight showing of the new Batman movie at an Aurora theater.
In Virginia, the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office said it planned to enhance its presence at movie theaters as a precautionary measure. Officials stressed the move was in no way indicative of any imminent threat.
Fairfax County Police say they plan to have officers “out and about” as usual, but have no plans to increase patrols at movie theaters, adding they also have not received any threats against movie goers.
Assistant D.C. Police Chief Lamar Greene said moviegoers can expect to see additional patrols at city theaters, at least temporarily. He said police would pay close attention to theaters showing “The Dark Knight Rises,” the new Batman film.
“This’ll be 24 hours. This’ll be through the weekend until we hear from our federal partners” about a motive and other information.
A Baltimore County police department spokeswoman said that while officers would not be assigned to specific movie theaters, the department did plan to increase patrols around malls and movie theaters “to alleviate community fears” and address potential threats. Police officers working as off-duty security for theaters may already be present.
A similar police presence was planned in Montgomery County, Md.
A spokesman for Anne Arundel County Police said also said they planned to conduct additional checks at movie theaters. Additionally, they have requested malls and movie theaters be acutely aware of suspicious activity and report it immediately. The department said its officers were prepared to respond quickly to any such incident.
At the Regal Gallery Place multiplex in downtown Washington, moviegoers trickling in for a Friday morning showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” had their bags and purses searched as theater employers took their tickets. Several people said they weren’t concerned for their safety.
Mike Baxter, 33, a copyright specialist, said he tends to find solace in movie theaters.
“It’s one of the only places in general that I tend to feel safe,” Baxter said. Asked whether that would change, he said, “Let’s hope not.”
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