Both Nassau and Suffolk counties will be stepping up police presence at theaters showing The Dark Knight Rises this weekend as a precaution after a gunman opened fire and killed 12 people during a midnight showing of the highly anticipated movie in Colorado early Friday morning.
“We are assigning patrol cars to do an intensive patrol at all the movie theaters that are showing the movie Batman,” a Nassau County police spokeswoman told the Press.
The department will be assigning its K-9 unit, bureau of special operations and its emergency service unit to make “regular visits” at Nassau theaters, police said. Units will set up patrols and talk to people around theaters, the spokeswoman said.
“We’re going to do it through the weekend and see what happens,” she said.
Suffolk police said Friday afternoon that they will also be increasing patrols around Suffolk County theaters.
They said there’s no reason to believe an incident like the one in Colorado will happen in Suffolk, but the “department is taking precautionary measures to ensure residents safety,” Suffolk police said in an e-mail.
The department noted that any calls of “suspicious packages or persons occurring at large gatherings, particularly movie theaters, will be dispatched immediately.”
The New York Police Department also will also step up security throughout the city “as a precaution against copycats and to raise the comfort levels among movie patrons,” NYPD police commissioner Ray Kelly said in a statement.
A masked gunman, who has been identified as 24-year-old James Holmes, entered the crowded theater in the city of Aurora wearing a gas mask, threw a gas canister into the crowd and then opened fire on moviegoers,according to reports.
Officials said 12 people were killed and dozens more were injured in the attack. Some media outlets have reported that at least 50 people were injured in the midnight massacre.
Holmes was reportedly taken into custody following the shooting. Police have yet to establish a motive.
As a result of the shooting, Warner Bros. canceled Friday night’s Paris premiere of the film.
The studio released a statement, saying: “Warner Bros. is deeply saddened to learn about this shocking incident,” according to the New York Times. “We extend our sincere sympathies to the families and loved ones of the victims at this tragic time.”
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola), whose husband was killed and son was injured in the 1993 Long Island Rail Road massacre, condemned the latest murder spree.
“The horrific nightmare of a mass shooting on innocent civilians in a crowded public place has, sadly, come true once again,” McCarthy said in a statement. “I mourn alongside the people of Aurora for the many killed and injured and the countless family and friends whose lives, as a result of the consequences of this event, will be negatively affected for decades to come.”