'Dark Knight' Shooting: Department of Homeland Security Aiding Theater Owners
The Department of Homeland Security is assisting the National Association of Theatre Owners in the wake of the shooting inside a Colorado theater that left at least 12 people dead and dozens more injured.
NATO, led by John Fithian, is making sure its members review a security checklist authored by the federal agency for theaters and other public venues. The checklist covers a wide variety of safety concerns, such as ensuring that sensitive areas are properly secured and that access is limited to individuals properly approved to be in those areas.
Eyewitnesses to the shooting at a Cinemark theater in Aurora, Colo., report that alleged gunman James Holmes -- now in custody -- entered the midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises through an exit door, though police have not confirmed any details.
Dark Knight Rises opened in more than 3,700 theaters across the country at 12:01 a.m. Friday. By midday Friday, the movie will be playing in more than 4,400 locations in the U.S. and Canada.
NATO and its members also are in touch with local police departments across the country.
"On behalf of all the members and staff of NATO, our hearts and prayers to out to the victims of this despicable act and their families," the trade organziation said in a statement. "We are grateful for the quick and effective response by police and emergency personnel. Guest safety is, and will continue to be a priority for theater owners."
Cinemark, Regal Entertainment and AMC Entertainment, the country's three largest theater owners, all issued individual statements after the shooting. Cinemark said it was "deeply saddened" by the tragedy, a sentiment echoed by the other two exhibitors.
"We are terribly saddened by the random act of violence in Aurora and our thoughts are with the victims and their families. For the safety and security of our guests and associates, we are actively working with local law enforcement in communities through the nation and under the circumstances we are reaching out to all of our theaters to review our safety and security procedures," AMC Entertainment said in a statement.
"Being a safe place in the community for all our guests is a top priority at AMC, and we take that responsibility very seriously," the statement continued.
Regal said it will continue to monitor the situation and adjust its security needs as necessary.