Local moviegoers react to Colorado shooting during Dark Knight movie
When Sean McBride and Morgan Smith arrived Friday evening at the Citadel Mall Stadium 16, it wasn't without plenty of thought.
They had discussed the shootings that rang out in Aurora, Colo., early that morning as “The Dark Night Rises” premiered across the country.
They thought about whether the film had inspired the accused gunman, 24-year-old James Holmes, and they wondered about his actions' implications.
For an AP Interactive Graphic and up-to-the-minute stories about the shooting, go to www.postandcourier.com/aurora.
But they weren't deterred, and the two arrived at the theater donning matching Batman T-shirts, and posing for a photo under the movie's poster.
The slaying of at least 12 and injuries of 58 others dominated the attention of politicians, the media and countless others across the country Friday. Some discussed gun laws and the role of violence in the media — and how to prevent future massacres.
Law enforcement agencies thought more of the near term, and many announced that they'd beef up security at Batman showings through the weekend.
Charleston-area police forces were among them.
Spokesmen for the Charleston and North Charleston police departments said officers would have an increased presence at theaters in their jurisdictions. Calls to Mount Pleasant police were not returned.
That increase wasn't directly requested by movie theaters or concerned residents, the spokesmen said. Charles Francis, of the Charleston Police Department, said the move was intended to preempt and alleviate concerns.
That presence was evident Friday evening, as two patrol cars each were parked outside of the Citadel Mall Stadium 16 and Regal Charles Towne Square 18 theaters.
But for the weekend release of a high-profile film, that presence isn't entirely unusual, said Jonathan Cofran, a manager at the Citadel theater.
“We have heightened security,” Cofran said. “But we also don't want the actions in Colorado to ruin the experience of moviegoers.”
That security didn't include bans of costumes or masks, Cofran said, but such rules were implemented by some national theater chains, including Regal Entertainment Group, which operates the Charles Towne Square and the Palmetto Grande Stadium 16 in Mount Pleasant.
“Moviegoers should expect stricter controls over character attire and accessories at our theatres,” Russ Nunley wrote in an email response.
Nunley, Regal's vice president for marketing and communications, did not elaborate on what those controls would entail.
At the Citadel and Charles Towne theaters, moviegoers didn't appear to dress up beyond a smattering of Batman T-shirts, and they said that the Colorado tragedy weighed on their thoughts.
But few were deterred from seeing the trilogy's final installment.
Some, like Elliot Miller, said they'd long awaited the film's premiere and wouldn't let the tragedy distract them.
“I think it will be pretty hard to distract me from what's going on in this movie,” Miller said. “I've been excited about it for a while.”
Others, including Smith and McBride, said they were no more worried going into a movie theater than they were going anywhere else.
“It's scary,” Smith said. “But they can get you walking down the street.”
“It's going to happen in random places,” McBride added. “It's always going to happen. … You just have to go through your life and hope for the best.”
Mario and Maria Oliviera were shaken, too, but they decided to come with their children to the theater anyway.
“I still have faith in humanity,” Maria Oliviera said.