- Grand jury returns indictment against "The Dark Knight Rises" patron
- Theater manager, police officer became suspicious because of where he sat
- Police say Smith told them he was carrying a gun and knives to protect himself
An Ohio grand jury has indicted Scott A. Smith, who was arrested after allegedly attending the latest Batman movie armed with a gun, ammunition and knives.
Smith was indicted Monday on one felony count of carrying a concealed weapon, one misdemeanor count of carrying a concealed weapon and one misdemeanor count of carrying weapons "under disability," charges that refer to the effects of prescription drugs Smith was taking, said Nicole DiSanto of the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office in Cleveland.
Smith originally faced 21 weapons-related charges.
"I'm happy the indictment only came out with three counts," Scott's attorney, Matthew Bruce, said Tuesday. "I still dispute Mr. Smith is under any kind of a disability. He has no record, certainly not of violence. He's not drug or alcohol dependent."
Police say on the night of August 4, Smith went to the Regal Theater in Westlake to see the 10:30 p.m. showing of "The Dark Knight Rises."
According to DiSanto, Smith was the first to arrive, 30 minutes before the movie's start, and took a seat in the back row, directly in the middle, with his back to a wall. A manager at the theater and an off-duty police officer grew suspicious of where he sat, and they noticed the bag Smith was carrying.
They asked to search the bag, DiSanto said, and inside found a loaded 9 mm semiautomatic handgun, two loaded magazine clips and three knives. Police said Smith was carrying another knife on his person.
Smith's lawyer said he had arrived early to get the best seat in the theater.
"That's just the kind of person he is," said Bruce, who acknowledged that Smith was not carrying the gun legally.
Smith told the off-duty officer he was carrying the gun and knives for protection, to protect himself and other moviegoers, said police, who took him into custody.
A search of Smith's home turned up more weapons, including rifles, shotguns and survivalist gear, according to authorities.
"He had a fear and wanted to protect himself," Bruce said recently.
Police Lt. Ray Arcuri said police believe Smith's position in the movie theater was "tactical": not only was he protected from the back, but he could have fired to his right, left and center on anyone in the theater in front of him. About 80 people attended the movie that night.
In 1995, Smith enlisted in the U.S. Army but did not finish basic training, according to Army spokesman George Wright.
The charges against Smith follow the mass shooting last month in Aurora, Colorado, where a gunman fired on a crowd of moviegoers watching a showing of "The Dark Knight Rises." The attack killed 12 people.
Arraignment is scheduled for August 27. Bruce said Smith plans to plead not guilty to all counts.