Movie theater attacks cause some local chains to re-evaluate security

Posted at 6:03 PM, Aug 06, 2015

ROCKFORD, Mich. – A terrifying attack at an Antioch, Tennessee movie theater Wednesday is causing some movie theaters in West Michigan to question their emergency plans.

A police shootout killed the attacker, and no one else was seriously hurt, but Wednesday’s attack is the latest in a string of movie theater violence. The shooting left one father thankful for his life, after a 29-year-old man, now dead, sliced the man’s shoulder with his hatchet.

But what’s not reassuring is that this violence is the latest in a chain of theater shootings.

Wednesday’s shootout happened just two weeks after two people were killed at a theater in Lafayette, Louisiana. Meanwhile jurors are deciding whether the man convicted of killing 12 people in an Aurora, Colorado theater in 2012 will get the death penalty.

All of this violence has NorthStar Cinemas in Rockford discussing security.

“We have to be on top of any changing situation, and we have to update as things change,” said Troy Wright, manager. “You would think nothing like this could happen around here, but it is the harsh reality that anything can happen, we have to prepare as much as we can.”

Wright said their theaters have lit exits with silent alarms that alert only staff if opened. Then they take proactive safety measures like not allowing backpacks into theaters.

“We have always had backpacks or bags of large size taken aside, suspicious behavior, checking theaters, making sure nothing weird is going on,” said Wright.

Wright also said their company is discussing adding more surveillance and security, but employees are always on their feet as they rework their emergency plan.

“We just keep vigilant and try not to worry about it too much obviously, but it is a reality,” said Wright.

Safety discussions within their company are ongoing, but Wright said the bottom line is getting everybody in and out safely. Wright said they would like to talk with police and other movie theaters about developing a standard emergency procedure for the industry.