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Man who stabbed Fullerton moviegoers is still at large

February 27, 2008|Susannah Rosenblatt | Times Staff Writer

A man who stabbed two fellow moviegoers during a Sunday night screening of a bloody horror movie in Fullerton was still being sought Tuesday, police said.

The attack, described by police as random, began about 7:30 p.m. Sunday at the AMC theater in the 1000 block of South Lemon Street.

Half an hour into "The Signal," a man seated in a back row stabbed a lone moviegoer in front of him, police said. As the victim fled, a witness told police, the man walked toward the screen and stabbed a second man.

"People came running out of the theater saying they've been stabbed," said Fullerton Police Lt. Tom Basham.

Basham said police were already at the scene because they were responding to reports of a bag of narcotics found at the theater. The stabber fled out a back exit.

One victim was stabbed in the arm and the other in the arm and chest, Basham said. Both men have been released from hospitals and are expected to recover, he said.

The victims apparently did not know each other or the suspect, "leading us to believe this is just a completely random assault," Basham said. At the time, there were only two moviegoers in the theater in addition to the stabber and victims, police said.

The suspect was described as in his mid-20s.

Police are reviewing a surveillance tape from the theater's concession area, but said images were hard to make out.

"Whether it'll be of value to us or not, I don't know yet," said Lt. Alex Bastreri, who said they hoped to enhance the video's quality.

A man who matched the suspect's description had been kicked out of the theater earlier Sunday for trying to bring in alcohol, Bastreri said. That man apparently bought a ticket and tried to carry in what authorities believe was a bottle of liquor. When theater employees told him that was prohibited, the man returned with the alcohol in a different container, Bastreri said. Employees then offered to refund the man's money and told him to leave.

Theater staff described the man as "acting irrationally and intoxicated," Bastreri said.

AMC Entertainment's spokesman said the Kansas City-based company has increased the number of security guards at the theater.

"Our hearts go out to these two guests as they recover," said Justin Scott, AMC's director of corporate communications, in a statement.

Police describe the neighborhood as calm. They have increased patrols "just for public peace of mind," Bastreri said.

After the suspect fled, Basham said, the movie resumed: It is a slasher film about a mysterious electronic signal that compels people to kill.

Anyone with information is asked to call Fullerton police at (714) 738-6800.


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