Police have arrested one person after chaos erupted at a South Florida movie theater during a screening of the new Batman movie.
Miami Beach Police responded to the Regal Cinemas on Lincoln Road, just after midnight, Tuesday, to reports of shots fired during the movie "The Dark Knight Rises." However, police would later find no one had a gun, much less were there shots fired. Still, a panic ensued after, police said, an unruly patron had acted out.
According to police, at 12:15 a.m., 30 officers responded to the popular movie theater. Witnesses told police that a man got up and started walking up and down the stairs during the film and became rowdy.
Police said the man, identified as David Escamillo, got into a verbal altercation with another moviegoer before he left the movie house. "I noticed an individual in the theater who was acting irrationally," said witness James Butler. "He had gone out of the theater and then came right back in."
According to the police report, the man would soon return wearing black gloves and shouted, "This is it!" Memories of the Colorado movie theater massacre, which occurred at a midnight screening of the same movie, most likely fueled the panic that followed. Once Escamillo yelled that statement, police said, more than 140 people started running out of the theater, screaming, some leaving shoes behind.
"As I was standing on the stairs, and we were holding the guy, I looked up, and you could see on the third floor that everybody was just watching what was going on," Butler said.
Miami Beach Police arrived in force and arrested Escamillo. Police said, three people were holding down Escamillo as he screamed, "I didn't shoot anybody!"
"I held him around his neck, I held him down, and I knew that two gentlemen were back there, holding him, and we rolled him all the way down to the stairway" said Nghi Ho, who helped restrain the suspect.
Butler said, "As we saw it happening, we actually spoke to each other beforehand and said, 'If someone comes in through that side door, I'm going over the wall to get out of here.' But it's amazing when your instincts kick in, and it's time to spring into action."
On Tuesday, Regal Cinemas released the following statement: "Regal takes the matter very seriously, accordingly we are working closely with local police."
Police continue to investigate.
There were no injuries.
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