The shootings in Aurora, Colorado early Friday morning left 12 dead, 50 injured and a nation in shock.
But the crimes were the work of an individual in need of professional help, and were not targeted toward movie theaters, nor the blockbuster The Dark Knight Rises, according to Heath Thomas, manager of Goodrich Quality Theaters’ western region.
Colorado police have arrested 24-year-old James Holmes in connection with the shooting, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Police said Holmes is accused of entering the Denver-area theater during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises, armed with tear gas, an assault rifle, a shotgun and two pistols.
After letting off the tear gas, police said, Holmes opened fire. Police later found him in a car by the theater, and took him into custody, according to published reports.
Media coverage of the shooting has made mention of the violent scenes in The Dark Knight Rises, the final installment of director Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. But Thomas said the shooting was not related to the film, and moviegoers should feel safe venturing out to their local multiplex.
Thomas oversees several theaters, including the Goodrich Kendall 10 off of Route 30 in Oswego. In fact, he said, he was at the Oswego location on Friday morning, and he said the theater’s usual security measures are in place. Goodrich is not taking special measures to increase security, Thomas said, but practices are already in place to ensure safety.
In Oswego, he said, off-duty Oswego police officers are used for weekend security, and the theater is equipped with means of contacting police quickly. Theater staff, he said, is trained to watch for suspicious people, and report them to police. The movie will continue to be shown at its previously scheduled showings.
Oswego Police Chief Dwight Baird said the department assigns an officer to the theater on Friday nights, and has done so for years.
No changes to any movie screenings are planned for this weekend.
Moviegoers, Thomas said, should understand that this incident could have happened anywhere, and was not specifically targeted toward movie theaters, or this film.
“It was not based on theaters or on the Dark Knight,” he said. “It was a deranged, sick individual who did not get the help he needed.”