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Alert officer’s search revealed loaded pistol in theatergoer’s bag

North Ridgeville man took back-row seat
early in ‘Dark Knight’ theater

By Kevin Kelley
Westlake

Westlake police arrested Scott A. Smith, a 37-year-old North Ridgeville man who they say brought a loaded pistol inside the Regal Cinemas theater complex at Crocker Park Saturday night.

Scott A. Smith (Photo courtesy Westlake Police)

According to Westlake police Lt. Ray Arcuri, Smith carried a pouch on his hip into the theater. A theater manager first approached him to question him about it. After Smith entered the theater, a Westlake police officer working security at Regal Cinema, approach him and asked to look inside the pouch. The officer, Jeremiah Bullins, spotted the pistol, escorted Scott from the theater and placed him under arrest, Arcuri said.

Arcuri commended the manager and officer for their alertness.

“He maybe averted a tragedy by his actions,” Arcuri said of Officer Bullins.

The pistol inside Smith’s pouch was a loaded 9mm Glock, Westlake police said. Two, extra, fully loaded magazines were also present, Arcuri said. Bullins found three knives in the pouch and one additional knife on Smith’s person, police said.

Smith had entered a theater where “The Dark Knight Rises,” the new Batman movie, was to be shown. The same movie was playing at an Aurora, Colo., theater July 20 when a gunman allegedly killed 12 people and wounded 58.

Smith purchased a ticket for the 10 p.m. showing but entered the theater nearly an hour before the film was to start, Arcuri said. No one else was in the particular theater when Officer Bullins approached Smith, Arucri said.

Arcuri told reporters that Smith’s selection of a seat in the middle of the back row was disconcerting, as it would place potential victims in front of him.

Westlake police charged Smith with four counts of carrying various weapons and one count of carrying a concealed weapon. Smith did not have a permit to carry a concealed weapon, Arcuri said.

Cuyahoga County prosecutors studying the case may file additional charges pending the conclusion of the police investigation. One possible additional charge, Arcuri said, is having weapons under disability. Certain prescription medications Smith was apparently taking, such as painkillers, Arcuri said, may have made him ineligible to own the weapons under Ohio law.

As of Monday afternoon, Smith remained in the Westlake city jail. He will likely be transported to the county jail Wednesday, Arcuri said.

Police executed a search warrant at Smith’s North Ridgeville residence Monday night. Investigators found six or seven pistols, a dozen long guns (such as rifles), bulletproof vests, gas masks and other survivalist gear, Arcuri said.

Smith’s smartphone, which was also the subject of a search warrant, held hundreds of photos of guns, Arcuri told West Life.

Smith is married and has one daughter, Arcuri said. He has never been arrested before, Arcuri added.

In an e-mail to West Life, a Regal spokesman confirmed the incident, which was first reported by Channel 3 News on its late news broadcast Monday night.

”Westlake Police, who work with us regarding security at Crocker Park, did detain someone,” said Russ Nunley, Regal Entertainment Group’s vice president of marketing and communications. He said any additional information about the incident should come from Westlake police.

Nunley noted that patrons are prohibited from carrying firearms or concealed firearms into the company’s theaters. He added that Regal reserves the right to inspect bags or packages individuals bring inside the theater.

 

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