Tragedy Averted In Nashville Theater Shooting, Suspect Killed By Police
Metro Nashville police have confirmed the death of the 51-year-old male suspect who opened fire in a Nashville movie theater at around 1:00 p.m. August 5. A larger tragedy was averted when police intervened and shot the suspect in the active shooting incident. Witness say the attacker first sprayed three victims with pepper spray, and also injured one of them with a hatchet. All of the victims were treated at the scene.
In a press conference this afternoon, police spokesman Don Aaron said two first-responding officers were working a traffic stop nearby when witnesses ran to alert them to the situation inside the Antioch neighborhood theater, Carmike Hickory 8.
SWAT team members first entered the theater through the projection room and engaged the suspect in gunfire. Aaron said the suspect was wearing a surgical mask at the time.
“The officer started at the projection room and started clearing down,” Aaron said. “He encountered the gunman. The gunman opened fire on the South Precinct officer. That officer returned his fire, and then backed away out of the theater.”
“There was gunfire and the gunman is deceased just inside the movie theater,” Aaron said. “So we believe the imminent threat has been ended.”
About 20 witnesses are being interviewed by police off-site.
A sergeant outside the theater encountered two women, ages 53 and 17, who had been injured by pepper spray, officials said. A third victim, a 58-year-old man, was also sprayed with pepper spray and suffered a superficial injury to his shoulder from the hatchet, officials said. The suspect also heavily sprayed chemicals inside the theater. Officials responded with gas masks.
The suspect’s identity had not been confirmed, but tentative reports showed he was a 51-year-old local white male.
Authorities also reported that the gunman had two backpacks, one on him and another he had left inside. Crews responded to determine the contents of the bags and any dangers that may be involved.
The bomb squad was uncomfortable with what they saw inside the backpack the suspect was wearing. Police said about 2:20 p.m. they were examining two backpacks, one on the suspect and one left in the theater, to make sure they were not dangerous. Later, at about 3:30 p.m., officials told reporters that they would detonate the bags at the scene to make sure they are safe. Reporters on scene said they heard a bang, the result of the detonation of at least one of the bags, just before 4 p.m.
Nashville Mayor Karl Dean released the following statement:
“I applaud the Metro Police Department for its great work to apprehend the suspect, keep our citizens and visitors safe, and prevent a tragedy in Antioch today. We have one of the best police forces in the nation, and it showed this afternoon in the way our officers lived up to their very thorough training. I recognize that this situation must have been traumatizing for everyone in the theater and many who were nearby, and I’m sorry that some were injured and needed treatment. I’m relieved that no one else was killed, and again, I thank the police for that.”
Watch video from the press conference here:
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