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'Batman' movie-goer brings guns, knives for 'protection'

August 07, 2012|By Rene Lynch

A lawyer says there could be a simple explanation for why an Ohio man allegedly armed himself to the teeth for a Saturday night screening of "The Dark Knight Rises": He wanted the protection.

Scott A. Smith, 37, of North Ridgeville allegedly packed a bag with a loaded 9-millimeter Glock, extra ammunition clips and four knives for his trip to the movie theater, according to Cleveland.com.

A search of Smith's home following his arrest turned up additional weapons, according to another report on Cleveland.com. That report said those items included eight rifles and handguns as well as "survivalist's gear" such as gas masks and bulletproof vests. The site additionally said that Smith was believed to have spent some time in the military.

It was the bag that caught the eye of an eagle-eyed, off-duty police officer who was working security on Saturday night at a movie theater in Westlake, Ohio, the news site reported.

That and the fact that the patron arrived extra early and took a seat with his back to the wall at the top of the theater, a position that Westlake Police Lt. Ray Arcuri said gave Smith a "tactical advantage."

"What concerns us is where he was sitting in the theater," Arcuri was quoted as saying. "If he chose to do something there, all his potential victims were in front of him and he had an advantage over them."

Arcuri added: "When you consider the movie he was going to and what happened in Colorado, you have to wonder what would make him want to bring the weapons into that particular film. Our police officer did a great job spotting him."

But Smith's attorney, Matthew Bruce, has a different take on the allegations, according to Cleveland.com.

"This was simply an instance where a man felt fear going into a movie theater in light of recent shootings and incidents around the country, and he wanted protection for himself," Bruce said.

Smith was arrested on suspicion of illegally carrying a concealed weapon and three other weapons charges. Prosecutors will decide what, if any, charges to pursue against him.

Movie theaters nationwide and law enforcement agencies have been on heightened alert since a gunman walked into a Colorado movie theater last month and opened fire during a screening of the new Batman movie, killing 12 and wounding 58 others.

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Join Rene Lynch on Google+ and Twitter. Email: rene.lynch@latimes.com

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