Clipper Staff Writer
CENTERVILLE – Megaplex theaters are encouraging the public to continue attending movies despite mass theater shootings that occurred early Friday morning in Aurora, Colo.
The tragedy happened on the movie's opening night At least 12 people were killed and another 50 injured by the alleged shooter, who was later taken into custody.
Whenever Megaplex theaters have a midnight show or any large group event, it has its own public safety team and extra public safety personnel in place, said Blake Andersen, senior vice president of Megaplex Theaters and a North Salt Lake resident.
All the chain's theaters have a public safety team on board for events such as the midnight showing of the new Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises." The Centerville Megaplex theater at 1075 West Parrish Lane, like other chains, has similar safety protocols.
Megaplex views the tragic as an unfortunate, but believes it was an isolated event, the likes of which have been seen only periodically in theaters, schools and restaurants nationwide in the past few years, Andersen said. Tragedies cannot rule people's lives, he added.
"The worst thing we can do is to hunker down and not go to theaters and other recreational venues," he said. "We want our patrons' experience to be pleasing, safe and inviting."
The theater's public safety personnel during special events are drawn from the chain's trained security teams and from officers outside the chain who may be off-duty police officers.
"Some of them are in uniforms, some in plain clothes," he said.
Andersen noted the Centerville theater has worked with the Centerville police force in the past.
Andersen said Megaplex has sent condolences to the Cinemark corporate offices. The theater in which the Colorado shooting took place was part of the Cinemark chain.
Elected officials are also reacting to the shooting.
U.S. President Barack Obama has ordered American flags on government buildings and embassies to be flown at half staff until July 25 at sunset in memory of the mass shooting victims in Aurora, Colo, according to the White House website.
The proclamation followed a press conference this morning about the incident, which occurred during a midnight premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises.”
“Now, even as we learn how this happened and who's responsible, we may never understand what leads anybody to terrorize their fellow human beings like this,” Obama said. “Such violence, such evil is senseless. It's beyond reason.”
He also spoke about how the shooting is a reminder of life’s preciousness.
“And if there’s anything to take away from this tragedy it’s the reminder that life is very fragile,” he said. “Our time here is limited and it is precious. And what matters at the end of the day is not the small things, it’s not the trivial things, which so often consume us and our daily lives. Ultimately, it’s how we choose to treat one another and how we love one another.”
Utah Governer Gary Herbert also commented on the shooting in his Twitter feed.
“The people of Utah are deeply saddened by the tragedy in Aurora, Colo. Thoughts and prayers are with our neighbors to the east,” he wrote.