Ax man killed in Nashville movie theater at­tack

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Po­lice shot dead a man wield­ing an ax, a replica hand­gun and pep­per spray at a movie theater near Nashville on Wed­nes­day, in ter­ri­fy­ing echoes of two pre­vi­ous cin­ema shoot­ings.

With only the at­tacker killed and three oth­ers slightly hurt, author­i­ties said the out­come could have been much worse, hail­ing the rapid re­sponse of po­lice who were at the theater in mere min­utes.

The man, who po­lice iden­ti­fied as 29-year-old Vin­cente David Montano, also wore a back­pack that was strapped to the front of his body and wore a sur­gi­cal mask, per­haps to pro­tect him­self from the chem­i­cal spray.

It later tran­spired that he was car­ry­ing an air­soft pel­let gun, not a real gun, although po­lice did not know that at the time. The back­pack, it turned out, con­tained what Nashville po­lice chief Steve An­der­son called “a de­vice con­fig­ured to look like an ex­plo­sive. It was not.”

A sec­ond back­pack left at the scene was also deemed not threat­en­ing, An­der­son said.

The man en­tered the theater, where “Mad Max: Fury Road” was play­ing, and fired pep­per spray at view­ers be­fore an of­fi­cer burst in through the pro­jec­tion room, fol­lowed by a SWAT team.

The po­lice of­fi­cer shot at the man, who took aim back be­fore flee­ing through a back door of the cin­ema, where he ran into sev­eral more of­fi­cers.

“He was shot, fa­tally wounded, and has been pro­nounced de­ceased at the scene,” said Nashville po­lice spokesman Don Aaron.

Po­lice said Montano had been ar­rested on an as­sault charge in 2004 and had been com­mit­ted for men­tal health care on four oc­ca­sions, ac­cord­ing to the Ten­nessean news­pa­per.

He was re­ported as a miss­ing per­son on Mon­day, the news­pa­per said, cit­ing Aaron.

A shaken wit­ness who was re­port­edly struck with pep­per spray along with his daugh­ter thanked po­lice for sav­ing their lives.

“I’m very, very grate­ful that no one else got in­jured here to­day, other than the per­son who per­pe­trated this,” he said, with­out pro­vid­ing his name.

“I would ask any­one to pray for his fam­ily be­cause he ob­vi­ously has some men­tal prob­lems or some­thing else.”

A 58-year-old man sus­tained “su­per­fi­cial” in­juries to his shoul­der and arm from the ax and was also hit with the pep­per spray, said Nashville Fire Depart­ment spokesman Brian Haas.

Two women, aged 17 and 53, were hit in the face with the spray, but no one else was be­ing trans­ferred to nearby hos­pi­tals and the area was later deemed safe.

‘Could have been worse’

Po­lice re­ceived a call about a shoot­ing at the Hick­ory 8 theater in An­ti­och, Ten­nessee, about 12 miles (19 kilo­me­ters) out­side Nashville, at 1:13 p. m.

Of­fi­cers were at a nearby crash scene and were able to race to the cin­ema in two min­utes, Aaron said.

The in­ci­dent takes place less than two weeks af­ter a gun­man opened fire in a cin­ema in Lafayette, Louisiana, killing two women and wound­ing nine oth­ers be­fore tak­ing his own life.

Both are rem­i­nis­cent of the July 20, 2012 “Bat­man” mas­sacre in which a shooter in Colorado opened fire on a screen­ing of “The Dark Knight Rises,” killing 12 and harm­ing 70 more.

Nashville author­i­ties — prior to the po­lice an­nounce­ment that the gun was a replica — said the out­come Wed­nes­day could have been much more se­ri­ous.

“We are very grate­ful we only have three pep­per-spray ex­po­sure cases to treat at this point. This could have been a lot worse,” Haas said.

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean also hailed po­lice for their quick re­sponse.

“I’m re­lieved that no one else was killed, and again, I thank the po­lice for that,” he said in a state­ment.

Lo­cal Uber driver Eric Vale, 32, told The Ten­nessean news­pa­per he was drop­ping off a pas­sen­ger at the theater when he came across a scene of “ut­ter chaos.”

“I just couldn’t be­lieve this was hap­pen­ing again,” he told the news­pa­per.

Re­cent mass shoot­ings have reignited a de­bate about na­tional gun laws in the United States, with Pres­i­dent Barack Obama call­ing gun crime a cri­sis that “tears at the fab­ric of a com­mu­nity.”

Ef­forts by U.S. law­mak­ers to tighten gun con­trol af­ter a 2012 mass shoot­ing in New­town, Con­necti­cut that killed 26 peo­ple, in­clud­ing 20 chil­dren, have stum­bled in the face of an in­flu­en­tial gun lobby.

AP

(Left) Nashville Metro Po­lice of­fi­cers exit the movie theater fol­low­ing a shoot­ing in An­ti­och, Ten­nessee, Wed­nes­day, Aug. 5.

(Rithg) This photo re­leased by the Metro Nashville Po­lice Depart­ment shows a hatchet car­ried by an at­tacker at a movie theater in An­ti­och, Wed­nes­day.

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