Friday morning's massacre in Colorado at a showing of the new Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises," is prompting heightened security measures at screenings around the Baltimore region, including Harford County.
"We are aware of the incident in Colorado, discussions have occurred and appropriate planning is in place," Monica Worrell, spokesperson for the Harford County Sheriff's Office, said Friday afternoon.
Citing security concerns, Worrell declined to talk about specific details.
"The Dark Knight Rises" is being shown at both Harford County movie venues, Regal Cinemas in Abingdon and Flagship Cinemas in Churchville. The sheriff's office has police jurisdiction in both locations.
Many of Regal's theaters around the country held midnight screenings early Friday morning. Starting at 9 a.m. Friday, the movie was showing on six of the Abingdon Regal theater's 14 screens.
The assistant manager at Regal in Abingdon said she could not comment to the media and referred inquiries to the company's corporate office in Knoxville, Tenn., which issued a statement on the company's website shortly before noon Friday:
"We are profoundly saddened by the tragedy that occurred at a Denver area theatre and are concerned for the victims and their families," the statement reads. "The security and safety of our guests and staff is always our number one priority. As is our custom, we will continue to monitor the situation and adjust our security needs as necessary. In the meantime, our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families."
The manager at the Flagship Cinema in the Campus Hills Shopping Center was not available to comment Friday afternoon. The movie began showing at Flagship Churchville at noon Friday. Flagship owns 11 theaters in seven states.
A gunman in a gas mask and bullet-proof vest shot and killed 12 people at a midnight premiere of the new Batman movie in Aurora, Col., a suburb of Denver early Friday. At least 55 other people of all ages were injured, police said.
The gunman, who was arrested a short time later, hurled a tear gas canister into the auditorium of the mall theater and opened fire on moviegoers. Police have charged a 24-year-old James Hunter in the crime.
Earlier Friday, Baltimore City's acting police ordered increased patrols around movie theaters as a precaution following the mass shooting in Colorado, a police spokesman said.
"We have no intelligence to suggest that anything horrific like that would take place in Baltimore, but at the same time we realize the propensity for copycat incidents tends to be high," police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told http://www.baltimoresun.com. "We're taking every precaution to make sure people have a safe and enjoyable time at the movies."
Baltimore County Police plan to have a greater presence around movie theaters and are closely following the developments in Colorado, told http://www.baltimorecounty.com.
"At this point, the situation in Colorado is still unfolding," Cpl. Cathy Batton, a police department spokeswoman, said Friday afternoon.
"We're not particularly sure at this point why this location was chosen," Batton said. "Until we can answer those questions, we'd rather err on the side of safety and alleviate community fears so they feel comfortable going out and enjoying the movies."
Batton said an "increased police presence" around theaters will be evident, and each of the county's 10 precincts will develop plans for increased patrols in the area of movie theaters.
However, there is no plan to assign officers specifically to the theaters.
"Many of the movie theaters choose to employ off-duty law enforcement, so there may already be officers there," she said.
Michelle Schiffer, a spokeswoman for Greenberg Gibbons Properties, which operates Hunt Valley Towne Centre in Cockeysville, said the mall operator does not typically share specific security plans, "but we feel that our security plan is pretty intense to begin with on the weekends."
An employee at Regal Hunt Valley Stadium 12, which is located in the Hunt Valley Towne Centre, told the Towson Times Thursday night that all 12 screens were playing the film, which is the third in Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, and all were sold out.