A beefed-up law enforcement presence is planned this weekend at Southland movie theaters and other areas where people congregate, in response to the massacre in Colorado during a showing of the latest "Batman" film.
A dozen people were killed and scores of others wounded when a heavily armed gunman opened fire at a midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises."
The Los Angeles Police Department promised an increased presence of uniformed and undercover surveillance officers this weekend at movie theaters, concerts, sporting events and other venues where large crowds gather, though there have been no local threats of violence associated with the mass shooting in Aurora, Colo.
"Since Los Angeles is the entertainment capital of the world, it is important that we all remain vigilant and do everything we can to prevent incidents like this from occurring in our communities," LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said.
The Sheriff's Department, which patrols the vast unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County and, by contract, some 40 municipalities, made similar deployment plans, as did the Orange County Sheriff's Department.
Locally, had sold-out crowds since the midnight screening Friday morning, and have increased both private security teams as well as the Los Angeles County Sheriff's presence (there is a sheriff substation at Universal CityWalk).
"We are concerned for the safety and security of all our audiences," said studio spokesperson Audrey Eig about the tragic incident. None of their screenings of the Batman movie have been canceled or delayed and there have been no incidents, but they plan to keep the moviegoing experience "safe and enjoyable" at Universal, where The Dark Night Rises is also showing on the IMAX screen.
"While the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado, appears to be an isolated incident, our vigilance has been raised," sheriff's Capt. Mike Parker said in a statement. "The heightened alert of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department includes increased patrols to create a more visible presence at movie theaters and other places where people congregate.
"As always, we encourage the public, 'If you see something, say something,' " Parker said. "The greatest deterrent to crime is often a phone call to law enforcement by a person who sees something that just doesn't seem right."
The Sheriff's Department patrols the vast unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County and, by contract, some 40 municipalities.
Police Cmdr. Andy Smith, a Los Angeles Police Department spokesman, said patrol officers were dispatched to theaters in the Southland where the movie was screening after midnight and news of the massacre surfaced, but no problems were reported.
Smith said LAPD commanders were scheduled to participate in a conference call with colleagues in the law enforcement community this morning to discuss the situation and plan the appropriate security response in Los Angeles.
The shooting at the Century Aurora 16 movie theater in Aurora, Colo., allegedly was committed by James Holmes, 24, who was taken into custody in the theater's parking lot shortly after the gunfire broke out, authorities said.
Holmes allegedly wore what appeared to be a bullet-proof vest and riot- type mask as he opened fire in the theater with three weapons.
Holmes' parents live in the San Diego County community of Rancho Penasquitos, where the suspect went to High School.
The Motion Picture Association of America, meanwhile, issued a statement regarding the violence.
"We share the shock and sadness of everyone in the motion picture community at the news of this terrible event," said former Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, the MPAA chairman and CEO. "We extend our prayers and deepest sympathies to the victims, their loved ones and all those affected by this tragedy."
Parker echoed those sentiments.
"Our thoughts and prayers go to the many victims, families, friends, and first responders affected by this senseless crime," he said.