Regal Cinema Employee, Westlake Police Officer Hailed for Preventing Tragedy
After a Regal Cinema employee spotted it, officer Jeremiah Bullins gave a second search of Scott Smith's bag in movie theater where "The Dark Knight Rises" was to be shown, finding a small cache of weapons.
The good eyes and good instincts of a Regal Cinema employee and an off-duty Westlake Police Department officer may have been the difference between a quiet Saturday night at the movies, and a horrific tragedy like the Aurora, Colo., shootings.
According to Westlake police, an unidentified Regal Cinema employee spotted Scott A. Smith, 37, as he came into the cinema for a 10 p.m. showing of The Dark Knight Rises.
He was wearing a Maxpedition waist pack, which may have looked like a fanny pack to most people.
After security was alerted, a Regal Cinema manager approached Smith and asked to inspect his bag.
The flap on the bag was raised, and the manager saw nothing like a weapon inside. Smith was allowed to go on his way into the theater.
What the manager did not see, said Westlake police Lieutenant Ray Arcuri, was a zippered compartment in the waist pack.
But Westlake police officer Jeremiah Bullins, working off-duty in his police uniform as security for Regal Cinema, was still suspicious. He followed Smith into the theater.
Smith was sitting alone in the still-empty theater, in the middle of the very back row. He had removed his waist pack and put it on the floor at his feet.
Bullins approached and asked to search the waist pack. Smith consented. Bullins opened the zippered compartment and found a loaded 9MM Glock semiautomatic handgun, two additional fully loaded magazines, and three knives.
Also in the bag, Arcuri said, were a flashlight, medicated bandages that help clot blood, and a capsule that is dropped in fresh water to make it safe to drink.
A fourth knife was also found on Smith.
Bullins, a five-year veteran of the department, couldn't be praised enough, Arcuri said.
"He was on the ball and really showed initiative," Arcuri said. "We're all very proud of him."
Smith was in Westlake jail Tuesday afternoon, facing multiple weapons charges. Police also confiscated guns, "thousands" of bullets and prescription medication in a search of Smith's home North Ridgeville Monday night.
If the employee and Bullins had not acted?
"It could have been a disaster," Arcuri said. "Where (Smith) was, once he'd gotten started (shooting), there would have been multiple victims."
Arcuri said that the lesson from the Regal Cinema employee and Bullins is that "When you see something, say something" works.
Also on Westlake Patch: