WESTLAKE, Ohio - A North Ridgeville man was arrested Saturday night after police say he brought weapons into a Westlake movie theater.
A manager at Crocker Park Regal Cinemas stopped Scott A. Smith, 37, before he was about to enter the 10 p.m. showing of 'The Dark Knight Rises,' and asked to see inside his bag. Smith unzipped and showed the manager an empty side pocket of the bag, according to Westlake police.
Jeremiah Bullins, an off-duty Westlake police officer, potentially prevented tragedy from occurring. He noticed and searched Smith's bag, finding three knives inside, as well as a loaded 9 mm Glock handgun, two additional loaded magazines, and a fourth knife under his clothes. Each magazine had 17 rounds.
Police said Smith was the first person in the theater at the time of his arrest but up to 80 people would have been there 20 minutes later. He was sitting in the last row in a middle seat. This was a "tactical position," according to officers, his back to the wall and facing out.
"If he chose to do something there, all his potential victims were in front of him and he would have an advantage over them," Westlake Police Detective Lt. Ray Arcuri said.
Investigators said Smith made no threats and was taken into custody without incident. Authorities also said Smith told them he had the weapons in self defense, but police aren't buying it.
Smith has a wife and 1-year-old child, according to police. They said they searched his North Ridgeville home Monday night and confiscated several items:
- 7 handguns
- 12 long guns (shot guns or riffles)
- Thousands of rounds of ammunition
- Gas mask
- Survivalist materials
- Ballistics materials
Smith was charged Monday with four counts of carrying various weapons for each of the knives, one count of carrying a concealed weapon with no permit for the Glock and one count of carrying a weapon while having a disability.
Arcuri told CNN Smith has no criminal record but was in the military for "a very short time." Arcuri also said Smith was taking medication, including pain pills.
Police said they do not yet know a motive. FBI agents as well as ATF are assisting Westlake police in a joint investigation.
Regal Entertainment Group, the owner of the theater where the incident happened, issued this statement Tuesday: "Moviegoers should expect stricter controls over character attire and accessories at our theatres. Details regarding our security measures are not discussed publicly, for obvious safety reasons."
The company also offered this information:
"Westlake Police, who work with us regarding security at our Crocker Park theatre, did detain someone. Since the authorities are involved, all information should come from them so that we do not interfere with their investigation.
"We do take safety and security very seriously at Regal. Here is some additional information that I can share.
"The following standing policies are unchanged and are posted at entrances:
- Patrons are prohibited from carrying firearms or concealed firearms in or onto the premises.
- Regal reserves the right to inspect the contents of any backpack, package or bag.
- The vast majority of our guests appreciate these safety measures."
Smith is being transferred to a county jail and may be arraigned Wednesday.
The incident comes just more than two weeks after 12 people were killed when James Holmes allegedly opened fire at a midnight showing of ‘The Dark Knight Rises' in Aurora, Colorado.
Were you at Crocker Park Saturday night for 'Dark Knight'? Let us know in the comment box below, tweet us or call 216-431-3700.