South Florida movie theaters are taking precautions after a gunman opened fire at a Colorado theater, killing at least 12 people. FBI-trained security consultant and forensic psychologist Dr. Harley Stock said the question of fans wondering whether they'll be safe at the movies will be asked over and over, but it's tough to answer. Moviegoers Larry Frazier and Chovanne Williams talk about safety at theaters.
Hours after a gunman opened fire at a Colorado theater killing at least 12 people, South Florida theaters were taking some precautions of their own.
A manager at the Regal Kendall Village Stadium 16 and RPX in Miami said the theater would have police officers patrolling the lobby starting at 7 p.m. for additional security.
The manager, who did not give her name, did not comment further and referred comment to Regal Entertainment.
In a statement, Regal Entertainment said they were "saddened by the tragedy" and "concerned for the victims and their families."
"The security and safety of our guests and staff is always our number one priority. As is our custom, we will continue to monitor the situation and adjust our security needs as necessary," the statement said.
At the CineMark in Davie, Alyssa Monaco noticed an increased police presence Friday night.
"I've seen a couple. I've definitely seen a few more cops than usual. Actually, it makes you feel a little better," said Monaco, who came out for a showing of "The Dark Knight Rises."
Cobb Theaters at Dolphin Mall will also have additional undercover police and security, according to one theater employee.
Jeremy Welman, COO of Cobb Theatres, issued an email statement to NBC 6 saying that the safety and security of the guests would remain a priority.
"As a precaution we will be adding additional security procedures at each location to maintain and ensure our guests a safe and comfortable cinema experience," Welman said.
The city of Sweetwater said in a statement that typically there are 14 to 16 police officers patrolling the Dolphin Mall area, but it has increased the number of police there by an unspecified amount because of the movie theater massacre and because of the mall's popularity.
“I want Sweetwater residents as well as other Dolphin Mall visitors to feel assured that we are doing everything possible to ensure their safety,” Sweetwater Mayor Manny Maroño said. “That being said, we ask visitors to be aware of their surroundings and immediately report any suspicious behavior to mall management or Sweetwater Police.”
Movie theaters can hire police officers at an off-duty rate and they can work there for a certain amount of hours, or the theaters can hire private security.
Davie Police said they are helping local movie theaters with added security.
Friday's early morning massacre rocked suburban Aurora during the midnight opening of the latest Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises.”
According to federal officials, a 24-year-old suspect identified as James Holmes was taken into custody shortly afterward.
AMC Theatres issued a statement saying no guests will be allowed to wear costumes.
"Local law enforcement agencies, our landlords and their and our local security teams are stepping up nationwide to ensure we provide the safest environment possible for our guests. We couldn't be more grateful for their collective support," the statement said. "At this time, our show schedules circuit-wide will not change. We will not allow any guests into our theatres in costumes that make other guests feel uncomfortable and we will not permit face-covering masks or fake weapons inside our buildings."
Residents were quick to react to the shooting on NBC 6's Facebook page with many concerned about their safety at movie theaters.
Paul Molina wrote that he would stop going to the theater. "... As I was watching Brave with my wife in a packed theater room, I wondered what would stop someone from just walking through the corridor and just spraying a few clips into the filled theater room ..." Molina wrote on Facebook. "I'm pretty sure I'll stop going to the theater period after this. I just think it's the smartest thing to do at this point."
Another Facebook poster said tragic incidents can happen anywhere and it did not affect his feelings of safety in theater. "... This can happen anywhere where large crowds gather not just a theater," wrote Dominick Fradera.
At Davie's CineMark, "Dark Knight" viewer Viki Dupruval said she wasn't nervous about seeing the movies, but her parents were.
"They're scared and they’re shocked or whatever, but nothing really serious – just to be careful more," she said.
Monaco said she was definitely nervous, though.
"I was talking about with it my family at home, and my mom was trying to tell me to be careful. And I was like, well, if something's going to happen there's not much I can do, but it definitely makes me nervous," she said.
FBI-trained security consultant Dr. Harley Stock said the question of fans wondering whether they'll be safe at the movies will be asked over and over, but it's tough to answer.
"This is what's called an active shooter case, where the person shows up at a place that hasn't been identified, and opens fire," said Stock, who is also a forensic psychologist.
Unpredictable and unidentifiable targets are the hardest to protect, he said. They are also among the rarest.
In the coming days and weeks, investigators will look to retrace the tracks of Holmes, who reportedly opened fire wearing military-style gear, Stock said.
"How did he know that back door would be open? Right?" Stock asked. "So, somehow he did surveillance, but can you take away the right of people who like to dress up in costumes and are harmless?"
Steeper security, and increased patrols, could soon be the box office norm, Stock said.
Those interested in making donations to the fund for the movie theater shooting victims can visit coloradocrimevictims.org or call 303-739-6346.