COLUMBUS, Ohio - A northeast Ohio man brought a gun, ammunition and several knives to a showing of the latest Batman movie because he wanted to protect himself in case someone tried to replicate last month's deadly Colorado theatre shooting, his attorney said Tuesday.
Scott A. Smith, 37, had no intention of causing harm or inducing panic when he brought the weapons to a Saturday showing of "The Dark Knight Rises," said his attorney, Matthew Bruce.
"With the recent shooting in Colorado, and the other incidents around the country in regards to threats, he felt that he needed protection," Bruce said.
Bruce said he was referring to movie theatre threats made after the deadly July 20 shooting in Aurora, Colo., where a 24-year-old man is accused of killing 12 people and wounding 58 at a midnight showing of the same movie.
Bruce said his client "felt a sense of fear" about going to a theatre, and chose the Batman movie by complete coincidence.
Smith brought the weapons to a Regal Cinemas theatre in Westlake, just outside of Cleveland, and seated himself in the middle of the back row of the theatre, a half hour before the movie started, police said.
A theatre manager and an off-duty police officer working security stopped Smith after they became suspicious of a bag he was carrying, said Westlake Police Lt. Ray Arcuri.
"Why pick that movie? Why that theatre? Why sit in the back all the way like that? Why bring the gun?" he said. "There's several unanswered questions."
Smith was arrested without incident and is currently jailed.
He was expected to be indicted on several weapons charges, but it's still too early to determine what those charges will be, said Nicole DiSanto of the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's office.
The theatre manager first noticed Smith and the beige bag he carried over his shoulder, Arcuri said. When approached, Smith told the manager it had medical supplies inside. He then showed the manager a portion of the bag that didn't reveal the weapons.
The off-duty Westlake police officer also noticed Smith and his bag. After checking with the manager, the officer followed Smith into the empty theatre.
The officer said Smith consented to a search inside the theatre. Arcuri said the officer was more familiar with the bag, and knew where to look when he found a loaded 9 mm Glock pistol with two extra loaded magazines, Arcuri said. The officer also found three knifes in the bag and another knife on Smith, he said. There were also medical supplies, but Arcuri would not elaborate on what they were.
When the officer asked Smith why he brought the weapons into the theatre, Smith offered to put them in his car.
Police searched Smith's North Ridgeville home Monday night and found more weapons, including at least six pistols and several shotguns and rifles, and thousands of rounds of ammunition.
Arcuri said Smith, who did not have a concealed carry permit, should not have brought any weapon to the theatre.
"Our job is to protect the community," he said of police. "It's not his role. If there's a gun, it's because our officers brought it. It's not his job to bring the gun, it's ours."