After Colorado, undercover cops will be in theaters amid fears of copycat
Police agencies across Southern California will have undercover officers inside movie theaters in the wake of the "Dark Knight" cinema shooting in Colorado.
Officials said they are concerned about possible copycats as well as troublemakers who might use the fears sparked by the shooting to cause mayhem at theaters.
In addition to undercover officers, both the Los Angeles Police Department and L.A. County Sheriff's Department plan to have increase patrols outside theaters.
LAPD officials promised "high-visibility patrol" of theaters as well as other entertainment venues, using both uniformed and undercover officers. Officials did not provide details about the planned operations.
“I am outraged by the cowardly attack on innocent movie patrons in Colorado last night," LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those innocent victims. Since Los Angeles is the entertainment capital of the world, it is important that we all remain vigilant and do everything we can to prevent incidents like this from occurring in our Communities. Remember, IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING.”
Long Beach police will also be on alert.
"Although it does appear to be an isolated incident, we are always concerned a violent act of this scale could occur at a place where the public gathers. We hope a tragedy like this never takes place in our community, but we continuously train and are prepared to respond should this type of situation ever arise," said Patrol Deputy Chief Robert Luna.
The San Diego Police Department and the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department have both instructed beat officers to make extra patrols near theaters showing “The Dark Knight Rises.”
Sheriff’s deputies have had “active-shooter” training, some as recently as this week, on how to respond to calls about a shooter stalking a crowded space such as a school, mall or theater, said department spokeswoman Jan Caldwell.
San Diego police officers have been encouraged “to make contact with the theater management to be aware of what is going on and [tell managers] to call if they notice suspicious behavior or have problems,” said department spokesman Lt. Andra Brown.
In Aurora, Colo., where the shootings occurred, Mayor Steve Hogan told reporters, “We’ve taken a blow today, but we’ll get back on our feet.”
Ten people died in the theater, two at hospitals. Fifty-nine were wounded, said Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates, adding that “many” were in critical condition.
Some of the injured were children, taken by adults to see a movie starring a comic book hero. At University Hospital, spokesman Chris Casey said, 23 people were treated, ranging in age from 3 months to 45 years.
Police Chief Oates walked reporters through the city’s night of horror. He would not discuss a possible motive for the shootings, but painted a conflicting portrait of suspect James Holmes, who went to school in the San Diego area and was a graduate student in neuroscience in Colorado.
-- Andrew Blankstein and Tony Perry in San Diego