Extra patrols on standby for local theater after Colo. massacre

Colorado shooting
After a massacre at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., that killed 12, moviegoers are worried about their safety. (WRDW-TV / July 20, 2012)
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News 12 at 6 o'clock / Friday, July 20, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- It all happened just after 3 a.m. Augusta time.

While people here were filing out of the midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rising" movie, the horror was just beginning for people in Aurora, Colo.

Experts say after such a high-profile massacre like this, they're looking out for copycats, but local deputies want you to know security will be on hand at theaters this weekend.

On the 911 tapes and scanner traffic all you can hear is the sound of pure terror, the moments after a gunman opens fire inside a Colorado movie theater.

"Straight from the ceiling he took a gun and pointed it straight at my face. He was literally 3 feet away from me," said Jennifer Seeger, one of the witnesses.

"A young girl with bullet wounds in her legs, and blood all over," said Ben Fernandez, another witness.

"You hope that you're safe when you go to a movie theater, I don't think this has ever happened before," said Richmond County Cpt. Scott Gay.

News 12 broke the tragic news to moviegoers coming out of an early showing of "The Dark Knight Rises" in Augusta.

"It's just kind of weird walking out in the moving theater and just realizing that that many people were hurt or killed," said moviegoer Brandon Rios.

"I don't understand why you would go to a movie set out to kill or harm anyone. It just doesn't make sense," Nadira Spearman said.

Cpt. Gay says they think it is an isolated case.

"Are we worried about copy-catters? I think that you always have to be worried about that," he said. "We suspect we will get a call from the theater today asking us to beef up security."

Investigators say about 15 minutes into the movie, 24-year-old James Holmes got up, went out the emergency exit and came back in throwing tear gas and wielding a gun.

"I think it's sad that you can't even go to a particular movie without someone trying to mimic the movie itself with tear gas and a mask," Spearman said.

With such a big premiere, fans across the country were decked out head to toe in Batman gear. Witnesses say the suspect even had on tactical gear and a gas mask.

Investigators say it can be hard to identify suspects when people are masked.

"Do you think movie theaters should start banning costumes?" asked News 12's Katie Beasley.

"I think it's a bad idea to allow them to wear costumes in, especially when it's covering their whole face," Gay said.

This weekend, extra patrols may be standing by at theaters, just in case.

"We will do our part in making sure that we have people available," he said.

If more patrols are brought in, the theater would have to pay for those deputies.