The staff at West Theatre in Craig prepares a soda and popcorn during Friday’s screening of “The Dark Knight Rises.” During a midnight screening of the movie in Aurora, an assailant unleashed gas canisters and gunfire on the audience, killing 12 people and injuring 58 others.

Photo by Andy Bockelman

The staff at West Theatre in Craig prepares a soda and popcorn during Friday’s screening of “The Dark Knight Rises.” During a midnight screening of the movie in Aurora, an assailant unleashed gas canisters and gunfire on the audience, killing 12 people and injuring 58 others.

Craig residents, movie fans react to Aurora tragedy

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Steamboat Today: Steamboat police increase patrols in wake of Aurora shooting

By Nicole Inglis and John F. Russell

Steamboat Springs — The previews finished and the lights dimmed inside the 1 p.m. showing of the “Dark Knight Rises” at Wildhorse Stadium Cinemas on Friday afternoon.

It was then that David Elrod, a Boulder resident visiting Steamboat Springs, noticed a police officer walking through the theater.

Elrod said he and several other moviegoers thanked the police officer, and a few even clapped.

“The whole thing kind of choked me up,” Elrod said after the film ended. “I was just touched by how our world has changed because of this.”

In the wake of the movie theater shooting early Friday in Aurora, which The Associated Press reported left 12 dead and 59 wounded, Elrod wasn’t deterred from attending the finale in the Batman series, the same film at which a shooter opened fire the night before.

He said he was grateful for the police presence at the theater and crossed the parking lot after the movie to shake Steamboat Springs Police Department officer Evan Driscoll’s hand.

Driscoll explained that he was at the theater to help the public feel more comfortable.

“Given the shootings in Aurora, we have stepped up enforcement by conducting extra patrol at the movie theater,” he said Friday.

He said that police do not perceive any local threat.

“We want people to feel safe in Steamboat and at the movie theaters,” he said. “We’ll be making sure we’re walking into theaters, checking doors, checking the outside of the theater.”

He said officers will be stopping by both theaters intermittently, similar to the way they conduct bar checks in the evenings.

The manager at Wildhorse, where the “Dark Knight Rises” is showing locally, referred questions to Metropolitan Theaters President David Corwin.

On Friday, Corwin issued a news release that expressed the company’s sadness about the Aurora shooting.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families,” Corwin wrote in the release. “Guests and staff safety is a top priority, and we are reviewing security procedures and working with local law enforcement to ensure a safe environment at our theaters.”

When reached Friday for additional comment, Corwin said local managers were asked to reach out to local law enforcement.

Metropolitan Theatres operates 18 theaters in the Western United States and Canada.

He said that the theater’s schedule will not change in the wake of the shooting but that every film is assessed each week and times are adjusted based on how the movie is doing.

“To be honest, I don’t know if anyone knows the impact this will have,” he said. “I hope people will recognize this was an isolated incident by a deranged individual. We feel deeply sorry for everyone affected.

“It provides an incident in which we can point out to our people and say, ‘Hey, you never know; you have to be mindful of what’s going on.’”

— In the days leading up to Friday, Craig resident Shane Hadley was heavily anticipating the release of one of the summer movie season’s biggest events.

Like many movie fans, Hadley couldn’t wait to learn the fate of one of the most beloved fictitious characters in “The Dark Knight Rises,” the third installment of the Batman trilogy.

Once the big day came, he was horrified to learn of an incident that would forever be tied to the saga and leave him and countless others thinking of those who would never get the chance to view the film in its entirety.

At a midnight premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora’s Century 16 movie theater, the excitement of a new Batman feature turned to terror when an armor-clad gunman walked into the theater, set off gas canisters, and proceeded to fire his weapons around the theater and at audience members, killing 12 and injuring 58 others, according to the Associated Press.

The response worldwide has evoked statements from world leaders such as President Barack Obama, who has visited Colorado since the shooting, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Great Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

All offered condolences to victims and families. “Coloradans have a remarkable ability to support one another in times of crisis. This is one of those times,” Hickenlooper said in a news release.

The cast and crew of “The Dark Knight Rises” offered sympathies about the shootings as well. Director Christopher Nolan issued a statement about the rampage, expressing his sorrow about the people who were only there “to watch a movie.”

“The movie theatre is my home, and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me,” Nolan said. “Nothing any of us can say could ever adequately express our feelings for the innocent victims of this appalling crime, but our thoughts are with them and their families.”

The same sentiments were present in the Craig community Friday night as moviegoers waited in line at West Theatre to buy a ticket for the same film, some quietly discussing the mass shooting that had happened only 200 miles from their home.

“It’s just a terribly sad situation, and it says a lot for the state of affairs in this country,” Craig resident Nakos Georgiou said. “You’d like to think we live in a smaller community where that kind of thing wouldn’t happen, but who knows? There’s no guarantees. It’s just like 9/11, and it makes everybody paranoid.”

Erik Groves, of Grand Junction, said on Friday the news of the shooting shocked him partly because of the location. During his time in college, Groves lived only four blocks from Century 16 and saw numerous movies at the theater.

“It’s a nice theater, and it’s not ghetto or anything like that, so it kind of freaked us out a little,” he said.

Groves and his 11-year-old son, Ethan, in town for the weekend to visit family and attend a sporting event in Steamboat Springs, bought tickets for the animated “Ice Age: Continental Drift,” instead of the PG-13 “Dark Knight Rises,” but the decision had little to do with the shooting.

“His mom doesn’t really like him to watch violent movies, but I’ll probably still see it soon,” Groves said.

Groves said he thinks the graphic content of movies such as “The Dark Knight Rises” and its predecessors likely didn’t have much to do with the suspect’s actions, even though the shooter may have been mimicking gunplay in the movie.

“It’s not the movie’s fault that you have some nut job who decides to be really stupid,” he said. “That’s like blaming a gun every time someone goes out and shoots somebody. There’s a lot of crazy people out there.”

Hadley said he believed the gunman’s main motivation was notoriety, citing the shooting suspect’s body armor and quick surrender as examples of someone who wanted to be caught and live to enjoy the attention.

“I wish they had never released the name of that guy because he wants to be infamous, and he’s getting what he wants right now because of our American media,” he said. “I just wanted to know the names of the victims so we could remember them.”

Police released the names of the victims Saturday, revealing that the youngest fatality was a 6-year-old girl, while the youngest of the injured parties was only three months old.

Candlelight vigils for the victims have been hosted at the site of the tragedy, which has already been noted as one of the deadliest mass shootings in recent history.

Box office figures for “The Dark Knight Rises” are expected to alter negatively as a result of the shooting, though West Theatre manager Debbie Winder said the turnout for the opening show Friday night was still strong.

“I wondered if people would stay away because of all that, but it all depends on the day,” she said. “That whole thing is so sad.”

Steamboat’s Wildhorse Stadium Cinemas, which is also screening the movie, brought in police security Friday at the encouragement of owner Metropolitan Theatres.

Other chains have also taken to stricter rules for patrons, such as AMC Theatres, which announced Saturday in a press release that it would not allow moviegoers entry while wearing face-concealing masks or carrying fake weapons.

“This guy has just really messed with our pop culture,” Hadley said. “Now kids can’t even dress like Batman or Harry Potter or Spider-Man. All because of one piece of dirt.”

Comments

WrestlinRockies 2 years, 4 months ago

Don't want to say much other than I hope the best for all those impacted by this horrible happening.

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fourteener 2 years, 4 months ago

Patrick:

Just because you and I carry doesn't mean everyone should. Many people are uncomfortable with guns, for a variety of reasons - those who are shouldn't own or use one. The late conservative Tony Snow, for example, didn't own a gun and was unalterably opposed to the death penalty because he believed the 6th Commandment was to be taken literally and obeyed absolutely.

Many more Americans are killed on our roads & highways than are lost to violence. If we extend your logic, a God-fearing daddy shouldn't allow his family to ever get into a car.

Incidentally, the Constitution doesn't say anything about a right to "bare arms." It appears you've confused tank tops with weapons.

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Amu 2 years, 4 months ago

I've been thinking bout CHL, know what the process is. Now I have to think about a gun. I have a 20 gague for home defense and a 22 revolver with snakeshot for the rattlers. The 22 is the only handgun I've ever used. Any suggestions for a 5'3" woman?

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Amu 2 years, 4 months ago

A coworker tells me knockdown power is important, so it's not the 22.

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fourteener 2 years, 4 months ago

Amu

I'm reluctant to recommend a specific weapon. What's comfortable for me may not be for you. And “knockdown” power should be less of a priority than a weapon you are able to shoot accurately and safely. As far as “knockdown” power is concerned - instant takedowns are rare in most episodes involving handguns. In the majority of incidents, placing a round on target immediately illicits a flight response from the target(s). I give you the recent video of the 71-year old guy in the internet cafe who successfully used his small 380 semi-auto against a pair of armed punks: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTct7O... At the end of the day, I want the biggest caliber I can control consistently under stress. So I think the best gun/caliber is the one that goes bang when you want it to, while enabling you to hit what you're aiming at - and it's different for everybody. As I once heard a defensive handgun instructor put it: “A gun is like your nose. Don't let anyone else pick it for you.”

Having said all that, you might look at .357 caliber revolvers (if you intend to carry concealed, you'll want one without the hammer spur). Revolvers are easier and more reliable to operate & maintain than semi autos, and the .357 also accepts the family of .38 caliber rounds. So it's a weapon that allows you to use a variety of loads: .38, .38 Sp, .38 Sp+P, and .357. Another thing – as a woman, you have an advantage over members of the male race: your purse. It enables you to conceal a wider variety weapons than I can accommodate with my inside the waistband holsters. If you want to get fancy, google 'concealed carry purse', and you'll find oodles of options.

I'm an occasional customer of Elk River Guns, and have found the staff there to be very knowledgeable (full disclosure: I do not have an ownership interest in the enterprise, and my association with the staff there is strictly as an occasional patron). I think you'd probably find it helpful to speak with them. Discuss your needs & budget and you'll likely get some excellent advice.

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fourteener 2 years, 4 months ago

Amu -

One more thing: don't be so dismissive about your .22. If a bad guy breaks in and your .22 is the most accessible weapon, don't hesitate to use it. First, the mere appearance of an armed homeowner may be enough to send him running the other way. Second, a couple three rounds of snakeshot in the face will sting, lemme tell ya. And it may buy you enough time to get to that 20 gauge in the closet.

In addition to my holstered .38, I always have my North American Arms .22 magnum mini revolver in my pocket. Once in a blue moon, it'll be the only weapon on my person. Is it my first choice for a self defense pistol? No. But it eradicates any possible reason for not carrying, and it beats the heck out of my main carry gun sitting in the glove compartment. Plus, it's fun as all get out to shoot. And for those who are rolling their eyes at the .22 mag, I dare you to stand in front of mine as I pull the trigger.

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Militaryfam09 2 years, 4 months ago

It's hurts to know that someone would do this. But in the end he'll get what is coming. Not only did he kill people he also hit the military hard. I'm proud of what one military man did. He gave his life to save the female he was with by taking the bullet for her. The families of the victims are in my thoughts and prayers. May he pay for his actions. God bless the military men and women that gave they're lives to save those around them in that movie.

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