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Attack at Batman screening shocks locals, doesn’t stop ticket sales

POSTED July 20, 2012 6:47 p.m.

The news that at least 12 people were killed and 59 wounded when a gunman opened fire in a crowded Colorado movie theatre during a showing of the new Batman film early Friday morning shocked the nation and local residents.

The violent incident didn’t, however, stop a steady stream of people from buying tickets for the Batman movie at the Turlock theatre later the same day.

“It’s hard to comprehend,” said Miguel Jimenez of Patterson as he stood outside the Regal Cinemas Turlock Stadium 14 on Friday evening before going in to see “Batman: The Dark Knight Rises.”

“The way I think about it, this guy was looking for a place to release his rage,” Jimenez said.

According to police officials, a man dressed in black, wearing a helmet, body armor and a gas mask entered a midnight showing of the new Batman movie in Denver, Colo., and then used a semi-automatic rifle, a shotgun and a pistol to shoot at the movie patrons.

The gunman, identified by police as 24-year-old James Holmes, hit 70 people. Holmes was captured in the parking lot. Police said they later found that his nearby apartment was booby-trapped.

It was the worst mass shooting in the U.S. since the 2009 attack at Fort Hood, Texas.

While shocked that a person could cause so much violence at a movie theatre, Jimenez was not worried about seeing the Batman film himself.

“It doesn’t have anything to do with the movie itself, it’s just crazy people…When they shot people at that political rally in Arizona it doesn’t mean people won’t attend political rallies anymore,” he said.

The Associated Press reported that the shooting prompted officials to cancel the red-carpet premiere in Paris, and some U.S. movie theaters stepped up security for daytime showings.

Regal Cinemas Turlock Stadium 14 management refused to comment on any security measures being taken at the local theatre or if they expected a decline in ticket sales for the Batman movie.

Regal Entertainment Group released the following statement: “We are profoundly saddened by the tragedy that occurred at a Denver area theatre and are 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. In the meantime, our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families.”

In an e-mail from Russ Nunley, vice president of marketing and communications for Regal, it was expressed that moviegoers should expect stricter controls over character attire and accessories at Regal theatres and theatre staff reserve the right to inspect the contents of any backpack, package or bag brought to the movies.

Rohari Gonzalez, 16, of Turlock, said she was “a little frightened” about going to see “The Dark Knight Rises” on Friday afternoon after hearing about the Colorado shooting, but decided to go anyway.

“It was a great movie,” she said.

— Journal reporter Frankie Tovar contributed to this report.

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