PLATTSBURGH — Even days after the shooting massacre at a Colorado movie theater, patrons in Plattsburgh had the tragedy on their minds.
“It probably changes the way you think when you go to a theater,” said Brian Spence of Plattsburgh, who was at Cumberland 12. “I might just take another look at where the exits are and exit strategies and that kind of thing.”
All the same, though, “it was an unfortunate but isolated incident,” he said. “So I don’t feel too nervous about something like a copycat or anything like that.”
He was at the Route 9 theater to see “The Dark Knight Rises,” the film playing in Aurora, Colo., on July 20 when the gunman entered from an exit door he had blocked open and shot dozens of people, killing 12.
Attendance for that movie was lower than had been expected for the first few showings, said Kyle Carter, a supervisor at Cumberland 12, but has picked up since then.
The movie house has not instituted any new safety measures since the massacre, but security is definitely on the minds of the staff.
“We are more cautious,” Carter said. “Like the Saturday (after) the shooting, we walked around the perimeter to make sure all the doors were shut, and (we) just try to keep up security.”
Carter did say that the company’s sister theater, Essex Cinemas in Vermont, was contacted by local police to review safety measures. Cumberland 12 had not been contacted by local law enforcement, he said.
“At the moment we’re not expecting to make any changes to security, just keeping our eye out,” Carter said. “If anyone looks suspicious, we’ll keep an eye on them.”
Regal Cinemas at Champlain Centre mall in Plattsburgh refused to comment on its security measures, and calls to the company’s corporate headquarters were not returned. Champlain Centre’s security didn’t comment, either.
A DIFFERENT WORLD
For Lance and Linda Newman of Alburgh, Vt., going to the movies was something of a statement.
“We’re not going to let that impede us,” Lance said of the Colorado massacre, allegedly perpetrated by James Holmes of San Diego, Calif. “We’re going to be strong because I think if we feel that way and don’t go, he wins. He gets his way.”
Lance admitted that while watching another movie earlier in the day, he, too, took special note of where the exits were. But not, he said, before he made sure he got the best seat possible for watching the film.
While waiting to enter the theater for “Ice Age: Continental Drift” with his family, Lance proudly sported a T-shirt from his Alma mater, Virginia Tech.
That school was the scene of a 2007 massacre, when a student went on a shooting rampage on campus, shooting dozens of people, killing 32.
The slogan on his shirt read, “Hokies United,” referencing the student-driven volunteer group that mobilizes in response to tragedies such as the shootings at Virginia Tech and the catastrophic Japanese earthquake/tsunami.
“We are Virginia Tech” was splashed across the back of Lance’s shirt
The Colorado tragedy immediately brought back all the memories of the massacre at his school and how it changed that small college town.
“When I went to school then, it was like Plattsburgh — nobody locked their doors. Now it’s different.
“But the world is different, too.”