deputies and security personnel assigned to areas near two Cerritos movie theaters are on heightened alert today following the mass shooting at a midnight showing of the new Batman movie in Aurora, Colo. that left 12 moviegoers dead and 59 wounded.
Southland Movie Theaters See Greater Police Presence
The decision to beef-up patrols throughout Southland movie theaters was made hours after the alleged gunman, James Holmes -- a 24-year-old UC Riverside graduate whose parents live the San Diego County community of Rancho Penasquitos -- opened fire in the Century Aurora 16 movie theater. The gunman wore what appeared to be a bullet-proof vest and riot-type and was armed with three weapons. He was taken into custody in the theater's parking lot shortly after the gunfire broke out.
"While the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado, appears to be an isolated
incident, our vigilance has been raised,'' Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Capt. Mike Parker said.
"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.''
Both Cerritos-Artesia Area Theaters to Have Increased Patrols
The Cerritos-Artesia area has two movie theaters, Edwards Cinema at the Cerritos Towne Center, and UA Los Cerritos Galaxy at -- both locations are offering several screenings of the Batman flick throughout the weekend.
"We always have people assigned to mall and towne center area but today they will be there giving specific attention to the movie theaters," confirmed Cerritos sheriff's Lt. Richard Harpham. "We will have more of a presence near both theaters."
Both the Cerritos Towne Center and Los Cerritos Center properties are patrolled by private security personnel along with assigned sheriff's deputies. And at times, personnel is increased if large crowds are expected for movie showings or other events.
"Mall security will usually put additional personnel out there and 'feel out the crowd' and if it seems overwhelming as far as attendance, and if there's a need for crowd control, they'll call the station," said Deputy Scott Enomoto, who oversees the sheriff's operations at Los Cerritos Center and other shopping centers throughout the city.
Enomoto pointed out there were no incidents or any trouble reported during last night's midnight showings of `The Dark Knight Rises'' at either Cerritos theater locations, and said for the most part that's the norm.
"I honestly can't remember any incidents at midnight showings at either theater other than there being some large crowds," the deputy added.
Ken Krause, Senior Manager/Property Management of Macerich, which owns and operates Los Cerritos Center, emphasized that ample security is put in place at the shopping center.
"The safety of our shoppers is our top priority. We have a thorough security program in place at our center and we are working closely with (LASD) Cerritos Sheriff's Station to address specific issues," he said.
"We are shocked and deeply saddened by last night’s tragedy in Colorado. Our prayers and condolences remain with the families of the victims," Krause added.