Security increased at local theaters, still seeing heavy crowds

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by STEVE STOLER

WFAA

Posted on July 20, 2012 at 1:11 PM

Updated Friday, Jul 20 at 5:26 PM

PLANO -  The theater in Aurora, Colo., is called Century 16, but it's owned by Plano-based Cinemark Theatres.

The company's headquarters are next to the Cinemark West Plano theater, where there is extra security Friday. The parking lots at the theater have been full all day. Police have increased their presence, not only in Plano, but across North Texas and the U.S.

The Colorado massacre did not stop crowds from coming to see "The Dark Night Rises." But it left many movie goers feeling uncomfortable, wondering if it happened in Aurora could happen in North Texas?

"Unless you have uniformed officers in every theater, I mean, yes, it helps," said Wesley Loria, who saw the new Batman movie Friday. "But the guy planned it out. And unfortunately, it worked."

Loria’s friend, Brian Cronk, agreed.

"It's always in the back of your mind," he said. "You're always thinking about it. But you can't live in fear, I guess."

Plano police discussed security with Cinemark officials. They agreed to add uniformed and plain-clothed officers at all three Plano theaters. They also hauled in their sky watch tower at Cinemark West Plano.

Cinemark CEO Tim Warner said security problems at the company's theaters across the world are very rare.

"We play to 250-to-255 million people a year with very little incidents," Warner said. "The movie theaters are very safe, secure environments. This is strictly a one-time tragedy. Whether it's been at schools, there have been all kinds of examples, regrettably, of very safe places that can have this one-time tragedy happen."

For Warner, who served in the military overseas, the Colorado tragedy brought back horrific memories.

"I saw stuff like this happen when I was deployed,” Warner said. “And we shouldn't have those fears here."

Dallas police will also show higher visibility at public places, including movie theaters in response to the Colorado tragedy. DPD issued a statement Friday saying their department is trained and prepared to respond effectively to similar situations in public places. Their new concern is making sure there are no copycats.

E-mail sstoler@wfaa.com

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