Copycat Concerns After Man Brings Weapons to Local Theater
WESTLAKE, Ohio — News of a man carrying a cache of weapons inside a Westlake movie theater during a weekend showing of ‘The Dark Knight’ spread quickly on Tuesday.
“Everybody’s concerned that something like that could happen here,” said Lorain resident Elijah Turan.
He, along with other movie goers on Tuesday afternoon were shocked at the arrest of Scott A. Smith, 37, of North Ridgeville on Saturday evening.
Smith was arrested for gun, ammunition and weapons possession at the Regal Cinema in Crocker Park.
Westlake Police Lt. Ray Arcuri says a manager at the theater and a security guard noticed Smith’s odd behavior and asked to see what was in his backpack.
According to Arcuri, Smith sat down for a 10:00 p.m. showing of the movie around 9:00 p.m., an hour early. Arcuri says Smith sat alone in the back row of the empty theater.
The security guard, an off-duty Westlake Police Officer, discovered a loaded 9mm handgun with two additional ammunition magazines and three knives. The officer then frisked Smith and discovered a fourth knife.
Less than three weeks after the Colorado movie massacre, fears are being stirred up once again hours after the arrest of Smith. The 37-year old never used the weapons during a viewing of the latest Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises,” but movie goers Fox 8 News spoke with Tuesday afternoon fear it could have been a repeat of what happened in Aurora.
“Guns aren’t what kills and knives aren’t what kills. It’s the unstable people behind it,” said Cathy Leigh. “And people that are doing this obviously have some deep psychological issues.”
The majority of Clevelanders Fox 8 spoke with say the security threat will not prevent them from going to the movies. Though Tina Gonzales says she’s not taking any chances.
“It’s really scary, you know. I don’t go to the movies myself but I’ll admit, walking past here, I feel a little sad about that,” said Gonzales. “It would detour me from going in, and from contributing to our economy here.”
Arcuri says the suspect’s motive is unclear.
“We’ve talked to him briefly but he hasn’t been able to shed any light on what he was up to there at the theater,” said Arcuri.
Smith’s neighbors say he moved to North Ridgeville a few years ago and usually kept to himself.
“To hear this, I’m like what the heck, this is just crazy,” said neighbor Pati Hobenicht.
Neighbor Linda Lalonde added, “I think everybody should be able to own a gun if they choose to. He’s a concerned citizen, good guy, family guy.”
Monday night, police obtained a search warrant for Smith’s home. Investigators say they found sniper manuals and hundreds of pictures of weapons on his phone.
“We found a lot of weapons, lot of rifles, ammunition, gas mask, survivalist type of gear in there,” said Arcuri.
“Last night there was a lot of policeman over in his area. I thought that was strange,” said Hobenicht.
“We feel that he’s a person that shouldn’t own firearms because of the medication he’s on. We’ve learned some of the prescription meds he is on should preclude him from owning firearms,” said Arcuri.
Smith’s attorney, Matthew Bruce, says his client only had intentions of protecting himself and not harming others.
“He was fearful of being in a movie theater at night in light of the Colorado shooting,” said Bruce. “His intention was purely of self-protection. There was no intent to harm.”