Movie theater beefs up security


Edwards Cinemas, including complex in Mira Mesa, is now checking bags as movie goers enter theaters

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SAN DIEGO - The on-going debate regarding adding security at movie theaters resurfaced last week after a man armed himself with a hatchet and pepper spray before going into a Tennessee theater and injuring several people.

SWAT officers fired dozens of rounds inside the cinema where Vincente David Montano, 29, repeatedly engaged them, officials said. Montano had brought a hatchet, a fake gun that shoots plastic BBs and pepper spray into a 1:15 p.m., showing of "Mad Max: Fury Road."

Some moviegoers told FOX 5, security workers at Edwards Theater in Mira Mesa inspected their bags and purses upon walking into the theater Sunday. They noticed signs about the new search policy posted around the theater.

As of Monday, those bag searches were still taking people by surprise.

"No idea, we came up they took our ticket and said 'open your bag' to search, kind of demeaning, interesting and different," said Kasey Sanfererino who attended a movie at the Mira Mesa Edwards Cinemas complex with a friend.

There were conflicting opinions on social media about the security measures.

"It's probably a combo of them stepping up security and the theaters in parallel using that as an excuse to catch people from sneaking in snacks. Due to the social network and accessibility of news, anything and everything is known within minutes and it has caused us to overreact and be over sensitized. Be cautious, but we can't live life in fear," John Stacy said.

"That's sad... First the airport, now the movie theater? What's next? McDonalds?!"Brandon Magpantay said.

"It's sad, but in the millions of theaters, with anywhere from 12-20 screens showing 6 or more films a day, the chances are so small. I don't worry because if it's my time it's my time. Can't let things like this stop you from enjoying your life," Sidney Paul Rivera Irizarry said.

Employees at the Edwards Theater in Mira Mesa directed all questions about security to their corporate team, which said "it would have no comment at this time."

Adding extra security measures, including walk-through metal detectors, training personnel and paying wages, can be expensive.

According to the Los Angeles Times report, maintaining a strong security installation at a multiplex could cost between $250,000 and $1 million annually. Such a system would include metal detectors, X-ray machines, workers to operate those devices and additional armed security.

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