NASHVILLE, Tenn. (CBSNewYork/AP) – A suspect was killed Wednesday after officers responded to reports of shots fired at a movie theater southeast of Nashville, Tennessee Wednesday afternoon.
Police said late Wednesday that the suspect, whose firearm turned out to be a pellet gun, had been institutionalized four times previously.
Metro Nashville police said officers who happened to be near the Carmike Hickory 8 theater in the suburb of Antioch raced to the scene after being told about a man with a gun and an ax in the theater.
They arrived within two minutes of the first report of the incident, officials said.
Upon arriving at the theater, officers encountered three civilians exiting. They had been doused with pepper spray, police said. One of them had a wound on the shoulder that may have been caused by a hatchet, officials said. Nobody appeared to be shot.
A responding officer started clearing the theater, then spotted the suspect and traded fire with him, police said.
“The actions of that first officer who went in the theater to engage this individual may well have saved multiple individuals inside that theater as officers worked to evacuate everyone in here,” said a police spokesman.
A responding SWAT team killed the gunman, officials said.
The gunman was identified as Vincente David Montano, 29, police said. He had been committed to psychiatric facilities four times, police said.
The gun turned out to be a pellet gun, police said.
The theater was showing “Mad Max: Fury Road,” officials said.
As CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported, Montano wore a backpack and a surgical mask. Police say he was carrying the realistic looking, Airsoft style pellet gun, as well as a hatchet and pepper spray.
Three people – two women and a man – were injured after being exposed to pepper spray in the theater, a Nashville Fire Department spokesman Brian Haas said.
The gunman had two backpacks with him that were being checked out, official said. One of the backpacks is going to be detonated by the bomb squad, a police official said.
Police have not named a motive for the incident, CBS2’s Dana Tyler reported.
The latest shooting comes about two weeks after a gunman opened fire inside a movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana, during a screening of the film “Trainwreck.” Police said John Russell Houser killed two people and wounded nine others before fatally shooting himself.
That theater shooting prompted “Trainwreck” star Amy Schumer to join her cousin Sen. Charles Schumer in calling for new gun control legislation.
At the vast majority of movie theaters viewers can waltz in without going through security screening. Some area lawmakers want to change that.
Among them is New York State Senator Tony Avella. After the Lafayette shooting, he called for weapons screenings at theaters, indoor arenas, and indoor shopping malls.
“You can’t live in fear,” Lynette Carmelli, Edgewater, said.
“I would prefer it to be stricter,” Carolyn Bedoya-Sekas, Old Tappan, added.
At some area movie theaters, including one in Brooklyn, bag searches are already being used to try and find possible hidden weapons.
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