While most of the violent encounters you’ll see at a movie theater will be confined to the big screen, some real-life criminals target cinemas—especially given their reputation for typically being so-called “gun-free zones.” That’s why it’s important to seek out and patronize establishments that respect your rights, so that if you ever wind up in a violent encounter, you’ll be able to protect yourself, like the following six patrons and employees did.
Grayson Herrera, 23,met several friends outside of a shopping mall where they planned to go to the 7:50 p.m. showing of a movie at the theater inside. They had just met up in the parking lot outside when the estranged husband of one of Herrera's friends pulled up next to them in his vehicle. The husband exited the vehicle and allegedly pulled a handgun from his waistband. Targeting his estranged wife, he fired multiple rounds as she ran toward the theater for cover. Herrera and his other male friend, both licensed to carry a concealed handgun, drew their guns. Herrera returned fire, killing the gunman. Herrera sustained injuries to his arm and chest, but was treated for his wounds. No one else was reported struck during the shootout. (Southwest Times Record, Fort Smith, Ark., 5/19/2014)
When two men tried to rob Coast Guardsman Jorge Anez in a movie theater parking lot, he took out his own gun and shot his assailants, killing one and critically wounding the other. Anez, 23, was walking across the theater's parking lot around 11:40 p.m. when a man stepped out of a blue Chevy Caprice, pointed a gun at Anez, and ordered him to go to his car and turn over his belongings, said police spokesman Carlos Negron. When Anez reached into his car, the armed man pistol-whipped him. Fearing he would be killed, Anez then pulled out his own gun. His assailant started to run away, then turned and pointed his gun at the guardsman. Anez fired several shots, hitting the gunman and a second man who had gotten out of the car. A third man, the driver of the Caprice, and another accomplice then sped off. (Sun Sentinel, Deerfield Beach, Fla., 4/22/2001)
David Owens and his girlfriend were driving away from a Torrance, Calif., theater when a youth pointed a pistol at Owens through the window of the off-duty fireman's van. Rolling to the floor, Owens grabbed a semi-automatic pistol from under the seat and challenged the gunman to surrender. When the youth fled on foot, Owens pursued in his van and captured the youth, who surrendered without a fight. (The Daily Breeze, Torrance, Calif., 12/29/1980)
Henry Hall III and his wife live above the Beeville, Texas, theater he manages, and when Mrs. Hall recently heard noises in the darkened lobby, Hall took his pistol and went to investigate. He found a youth hiding by the theater's safe and held him at gunpoint until police arrived. (Beeville Bee-Picayune, Beeville, Texas, 9/25/1980)
As manager A.L. Dehlinger, of a Dallas, Texas, drive-in theater, prepared to make a night bank deposit, two men approached him brandishing knives. He dropped his money into the depository slot and turned, gun in hand. The knife-wielding pair fled without a word. (Morning News, Dallas, Texas, 12/1/1969)
Two holdup men disguised by ski masks knocked off the glasses of Anderson, S.C., drive-in theater operator Biggy Harris, 31, and sprayed tear gas in his face. Harris nevertheless drew and fired a .32-cal. revolver. One of the holdup men fell dead, shot through the heart and both arms. (Independent Mail, Anderson, S.C., 4/1/1969)