Lawrence residents are still going to the movies this weekend — and theaters don’t appear to be taking any special precautions.
Twelve people were killed and 59 wounded in a shooting during a late-night screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” early Friday morning at a megaplex in Aurora, Colo. News outlets and social media were flooded with coverage, speculation and outcry throughout the day. Ahead of the 2:30 p.m. screening at Hollywood Theaters, 3433 Iowa, people continued to line up, aware of the national tragedy but, as Brian Grover put it, “thinking of it as a freak, isolated thing to happen.”
Many multiplexes across the country stepped up security, having employees search through bags before entry. In New York, police officers stood outside some 40 theaters, according to a report from The Associated Press. But in Lawrence, no such precautions.
Sgt. Trent McKinley, a Lawrence Police spokesman, said there were no plans in place to devote officers to any Lawrence theaters. Private companies wanting extra security would have to hire off-duty officers or other private security services, he said.
Jon Ratzlaff, general manager of the theater, said that his security policies would remain the same — security guards on the grounds during the weekends. Staff members there check larger bags, he said, but not handbags, and that will continue.
Ratzlaff said that he didn’t want to speak to the Journal-World further in an effort to not bring negative publicity; nor would he say whether ticket sales had been affected. He said Hollywood’s corporate headquarters told him not to talk about events in Colorado. Several messages to the Portland-based company’s head of marketing were not returned.
Hollywood Theaters has some branches in Colorado but does not own the one in which the shooting took place.
Here in Lawrence, moviegoer Kendall Kraus still looked forward to her Friday afternoon entertainment. She felt safe here as she waved hello to a friend also arriving for the Batman blockbuster.