WASHINGTON - Police in the District of Columbia and elsewhere in the region say they're stepping up security around movie theaters after a Colorado shooting that left 12 dead and injured more than 50 adults and children.
Police in D.C. and Maryland say they have no threats targeting the region but, along with law enforcement officials around the country, are taking precautions after a gunman in a gas mask opened fire during a midnight showing of the new Batman movie at an Aurora theater.
"There's no specific intelligence against Baltimore," said the city's police spokesman, Anthony Guglielmi. "This is simply a precaution given the propensity for copycat incidents."
Assistant D.C. Police Chief Lamar Greene said moviegoers can expect to see additional patrols at city theaters, at least temporarily. He said police would pay close attention to theaters showing "The Dark Knight Rises," the new Batman film.
"This'll be 24 hours. This'll be through the weekend until we hear from our federal partners" about a motive and other information.
A Baltimore County police department spokeswoman said that while officers would not be assigned to specific movie theaters, the department did plan to increase patrols around malls and movie theaters "to alleviate community fears" and address potential threats. Police officers working as off-duty security for theaters may already be present.
A similar police presence was planned in Montgomery and Prince George's counties in Maryland.
"They'll notice it. You'll see the presence outside the county theaters," said Sgt. Sonya Rorls, a Prince George's police spokeswoman.
At the Regal Gallery Place multiplex in downtown Washington, moviegoers trickling in for a Friday morning showing of "The Dark Knight Rises" had their bags and purses searched as theater employers took their tickets. Several people said they weren't concerned for their safety.
Mike Baxter, 33, a copyright specialist, said he tends to find solace in movie theaters.
"It's one of the only places in general that I tend to feel safe," Baxter said. Asked whether that would change, he said, "Let's hope not."
Ben Nuckols contributed to this report/
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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