4th UPDATE, 5:46 PM: Police have released more details about today’s shooting at a movie theater in suburban Nashville. They have identified the deceased suspect as Vincente David Montano, 29, of Nashville. He has a long history of psychiatric problems. Police also released a photo of the firearm he was carrying; it turned out to be an air pistol, a realistic-looking but nonlethal weapon that fires BBs.
3rd UPDATE, 4:23 PM: Carmike Cinemas, which operates the theater where the shooting took place today, has issued a statement: “We are grateful for the quick and professional actions of our staff and all first responders in Antioch and Nashville. The well-being of our guests and employees has been and will continue to be of utmost importance to our organization.”
2nd UPDATE, 4:12 PM: Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson said in a news conference this afternoon that authorities believe the suspect was a 29-year-old white man who lived in the area, correcting the earlier report that he was 51. Anderson added that the suspect had identification on him but wouldn’t release his name pending positive ID and notification of relatives.
UPDATED, 2:24 PM: People now say there were eight people inside the movie theater when a man armed with a gun and hatchet deployed pepper spray there. Among them were a couple in their 50s and their teenage daughter. Speaking at a news conference today, the father, identified only as Steven, said: “I have no idea why this gentleman decided to attack us. He is, from my understanding, no longer able to answer those questions.” He said he was thankful for the quick response by police, the aid he and his family received from bystanders and that no one was injured other than the gunman. He didn’t take any questions and referred reporters to local authorities.
PREVIOUSLY, 12:15 PM: A SWAT team exchanged gunfire with and killed a man at a movie theater in suburban Nashville today. Police said the suspect had a gun, two backpacks and a hatchet and used pepper spray on theater patrons. Nashville Police PIO Don Aaron said, “The hazardous devices unit has examined the backpack that the suspect was wearing, and they are not comfortable with what they are seeing.” He told reporters the pack will be detonated.
The incident was reported at 1:13 PM during a screening of Mad Max: Fury Road at the Carmike Hickory 8 in Antioch. A man and two women were treated on the scene for exposure to pepper spray used by the gunman, who was wearing a surgical mask and a backpack on his chest. Nashville Fire Department spokesman Brian Haas said the pepper-sprayed man also got a “superficial wound from what could be the hatchet.” He described the injury as a “not much more than a bad bruise” to the shoulder or arm. There are no reports of injuries to moviegoers, police or fire personnel, and no one has been taken to the hospital. “This could have been a lot worse,” Haas told reporters, “and we’re extraordinarily pleased that the police response was so effective and quick on this.”
Aaron told reporters, “The gunman apparently unleashed pepper spray throughout the theater. As additional officers — the SWAT team — entered that theater, it was very thick with chemical spray, with irritant.” Aaron also said, “The only person who was shot was the suspect as he emerged out the rear door.” He described the suspect as a 51-year-old white male but did not identify him. Aaron said Nashville officers were working at the scene of a traffic accident on Bell Road, “just off movie theater property” and civilians ran up to those officers to report “a man with a gun and an ax.” He said a police sergeant entered the theater’s projection room and began “clearing down” from there. He encountered the suspect inside the theater, and the man opened fire on the officer, who returned fire. Aaron said the sergeant “may well have saved multiple individuals inside that theater as officers worked to evacuate everyone in there.”
Aaron said the SWAT team encountered the suspect “some minutes later” at the theater’s rear exit. “There was gunfire, and the gunman is deceased just inside the theater. So we believe the imminent threat is ended.” He added that, “We have a number of witnesses who have been taken to a private facility here on the same property to be interviewed.”The bomb squad is on the scene. and the FBI and ATF are assisting local authorities with the investigation at the shopping center known as Global Mall at The Crossings.
Today’s incident comes less than two weeks after a gunman opened fire at a Trainwreck screening at a theater in Louisiana, killing two people and wounding nine others. That gunman then killed himself inside the theater. It also comes two days after a Colorado jury unanimously agreed to consider the death penalty for Aurora theater shooter James Holmes, who killed 12 people and injured 70 in that 2012 attack.