THINK YOU'RE SAFE AT THE MOVIES?
Like everyone else, I was stunned by the horrific event on July 20, 2012 when a gunman opened fire in Colorado at a movie theater, killing 12 and wounding 58. Days later, I had watched THE DARK KNIGHT RISES at my local movie theater. But my eyes strayed towards the exits, the people in attendance. I couldn't help but sit there and think, what would I do if a gunman stood up and started shooting? What would I do if someone suddenly broke in through the exit door, gun in hand. What if I had a child with me? My mind whirled with possibilities.
But as time goes by, some of us tend to forget and let our guard down - especially me.
March 15th, 2013 THE CALL movie drew my attention. I wanted to see the new thriller and went with one of my sons to my local theater for a late night showing. The theater was half full. But for some reason, I kept thinking about the Colorado slayings. I suppose it was a premonition. Perhaps the name of the movie should have said it all.
THE CALL was a good movie. It was about a 911 operator, who gets involved in a kidnapping. It kept my attention. At the climax, everyone was on edge, rooting for the women in the flick. People were yelling behind me as audiences tend to do. But then a man's voice broke out.
"Shut the f**** up"
This remark was ignored by most. But then someone replied. More words were exchanged - most just lost in the murmurs of the audience.
I ignored this as the movie ended. After all, I have heard this kind of yelling before in the movies. People can get hot at one another for wrecking a good movie. The lights came on. My son and I were sitting in the middle of the theater. My son stepped out onto the stairway and went down ahead of me. I was about to follow him when a man and his girlfriend rudely brushed in front of me and descended. I stepped in behind them.
What happened next happened in seconds. One minute I was behind this young couple and the next, I was suddenly shoved hard and fell back on the step as the young man came flying back into me. A fight had broke out. Another larger male was pummeling the younger man in the face in front of me. Apparently, the larger man was mad about the words exchanged during the movie's climax. Blood went everywhere.
The men broke apart. People scurried to leave. But then the younger man yelled something at the larger man, who came back for round two. But this time, the younger man stood up and drew out a gun, pointing it at him.
I scrambled to my feet. The gun drew my horrified gaze. The gun man stood perfectly still, hand steady. The larger man ran. Everyone rushed out of the theater, save a few stragglers. I had nowhere to go but back up the staircase. A couple of women were still in their seats.
"He's got a gun," I said to them. We all hurried along the back row. My son met me on the opposite staircase.
When we got to the bottom of the staircase, the gunman was gone. A trail of blood led out of the theater, smeared along the door. At the entrance of the building, a few movie employees were just getting panicked as they scurried about. The movie theater was almost deserted.
As we pulled out of the parking lot, cop cars arrived on the scene. I was thankful to be alive and put a call into the police to tell of what I knew.
Today, I am reflecting on what happened as my knee throbs from my fall. I love going to the movies, but have to wonder if I will ever feel safe at one again. Will this event keep me from going? Probably not. Events like these lead to stricter security measures. Will my kids be searched upon entering a theater? Will I be able to carry a purse? Our freedoms are being stripped from all of us. It raises the questions about gun ownership? I am a firm believe in the "rights to bear arms." But its menaces like this man that gives it a bad name.
My advice: always be aware of your surroundings and who is around you. Know what to do in an emergency. And most of all don't panic. Use your head.
NOTE: I was told the gunman had waited at the theater for the police to arrive. The other man was nowhere to be found. Will there be charges filed? I'm not sure at the moment.
by Author Tamera Lawrence