Movie Theater Publicity Stunt Triggers Active Shooter Response From Cops

"We received a series of 911 calls stating that a man dressed in all black and body armor and a rifle was walking into Capital 8 Theaters," said Capt. Doug Shoemaker. Officers thought they were responding to an active shooter investigation but the armed man was a paid actor hired by the theater as part of a publicity stunt for the movie.

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Thanks to Video Cafe's Heather for the video!

Hoo boy, if only there was a way to regulate stupidity.

ABC17:

During the opening weekend of the latest 'Iron Man' movie, a man walked into the theater in full tactical gear and carrying a fake gun.

Jefferson City police and witnesses, however, are not pleased with the stunt and are questioning the theater's logic after recent shootings in Aurora, Colo. and Newtown, Conn.

John Molock is a retired Army war veteran and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. He told ABC 17 News this most recent trip to the movies triggered memories he never wanted to relive.

"We had just finished watching Iron Man 3," said Morlock. "We're just getting into the car when I spotted a man in full assault gear, carrying what appeared to be a modified M-4 and 9 mm on his side."

Morlock did not call police, but several other moviegoers did.

"We received a series of 911 calls stating that a man dressed in all black and body armor and a rifle was walking into Capital 8 Theaters," said Capt. Doug Shoemaker.

Officers thought they were responding to an active shooter investigation.

"Everything was in place, it's the opening night of a superhero movie, it's somebody walking in all-dark clothes, everything pointed to bad things about to happen," said Shoemaker. "There's really no good that can come of this."

But the armed man was a paid actor carrying fake weapons, and hired by the theater manager as part of a publicity stunt for the movie opening. Capital 8 Theaters manager Bob Wilkins told ABC 17 News that the stunt was planned "months in advance," and that "only a few" patrons were upset. "Hundreds" were entertained, he explained, and "My job is to entertain people."

Asked if management took into consideration the the mass shooting at a Colorado movie theater, Wilkins responded, "Absolutely. That's my number-one priority every day. It's the safety and security of our guests."

After angry backlash on social media sites from angry movie patrons, Goodrich Capital 8 posted a Facebook apology Friday around noon, saying:

"We apologize and are sympathetic to those who felt they were in harm’s way with our character promotion for Iron Man 3. This was not a publicity stunt. We have worked with the Cosplacon group on many movies to dress up and help entertain our customers. We have had many complaints about the members dressed specifically as S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives carrying fake guns. We didn’t clearly tell our customers and some people didn’t realize it was for entertainment purposes only. We apologize that police were called to come out to our theater. We have a wonderful working relationship with the Jefferson City Police Department. Going forward we will take the necessary steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again. Security and safety for our customers is our number one priority."

Okay, so it was a "stunt" but not a publicity stunt? Judging from the comments on the theaters' Facebook page, it looks like way more than just a few moviegoers were upset.

"That's just unbelievable," said Morlock(The Veteran with PTSD). "The whole country is talking about gun control because of shootings in theaters and schools."

Police Captain Shoemaker added it was a good thing an off-duty officer wasn't at the theater because it's likely the officer would have engaged the actor. Had the actor not complied, the situation could have turned out much worse.

About Diane Sweet

Diane Sweet's picture
Senior Editor, Lives in a gerrymandered district in Michigan.

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