'Dark Knight' shooting: Police urge public vigilance, caution
L.A. law enforcement officials are urging increased public vigilance in the wake of the mass shooting in Colorado during a screening of the "Dark Knight" Batman movie.
Several law enforcement agencies around the nation are planning to increase patrols over the weekend at movie theaters, and some cinema operators are also considering more security measures.
"While the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado appears to be an isolated incident, our vigilance has been raised," said Capt. Mike Parker in a statement. "The heightened alert of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department includes increased patrols to create a more visible presence at movie theaters and other places where people congregate."
"As always, we encourage the public: 'If You See Something, Say Something.' The greatest deterrent to crime is often a phone call to law enforcement by a person who sees something that just doesn't look right."
The blockbuster movie is playing on hundreds of screens across Southern California, and many shows are already sold out.
In Aurora, Colo., 12 people were killed and at least 50 injured Friday when a gunman opened fire at a midnight screening of the film. Police have a suspect in custody.
Los Angeles police officials are not requiring every theater showing the film to be checked; each division will make an individual decision as to how often to check theaters, police said.
Sources say there is concern over a possible copycat incident.
The LAPD checked out the ArcLight in Hollywood during an overnight screening, but no security issues were found, a watch commander said.
"There's nothing that suggests that there's anything sinister planned beyond what happened in Colorado," said Sgt. Enrique Mendoza, watch commander of the LAPD Hollywood division. "What happened in Colorado appears to be an anomaly, an isolated incident."
A manager at the ArcLight declined to comment.
The shooting in Colorado left theater owners and police nationwide scrambling to figure out how to beef up security for patrons as the movie opened in more than 4,000 theaters nationwide.
The gunman in Colorado reportedly wore a riot helmet and a bulletproof vest and was dressed in black, raising questions about whether theaters should ban or limit costumes at the screenings. Many fans of Christopher Nolan's Batman films attend screenings in costume.
At a midnight screening at the ArcLight in Hollywood, patrons came dressed in a variety of Batman-related outfits, including many dressed as Bane -- the burly villain of "The Dark Knight Rises" -- plus the Joker and Harlequin. There was even a small boy dressed in Batman pajamas and a cape.
-- Andrew Blankstein and Amy Kaufman
Photo: Crime scene tape blocks off the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, Colo., where a gunmen attacked patrons during an early morning screening of the new Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises." Credit: Thomas Cooper / Getty Images