Just after midnight police received a call about possible gunfire at the Regal movie theater on Lincoln Road. When officers arrived they found several people detaining 44-year old David Escamillo who was yelling and screaming that he “didn’t shoot anybody”.
Officers noted, according to the arrest affidavit, that Escamillo was agitated and smelled of alcohol.
Witnesses told police that originally Escamillo was seated near the rear of theater number two which was showing “The Dark Knight Rises”. He then got up and started pacing up and down the stairway. After getting into fight with another moviegoer, witnesses said Escamillo left the theater. He returned a short time later wearing black gloves, and according to the report, stormed to the back of the theater where he screamed “This is it!”
Panicked, more than 100 people in the theater raced toward the exits as three patrons jumped Escamillo and held him for police.
James Butler said he was nervous about seeing the new Batman movie with his brother Monday night even though the Regal theater was a long way from the Aurora, Colorado theater massacre which left 12 people dead.
“We talked about at the beginning of the movie that if someone comes in that side door we are going over the wall,” said Butler.
Butler said every time Butler got out of his seat, he shouted at someone in the theater.
“He said to him ‘Let’s go, right now, right f-king now’,” said Butler. ‘They walked to the top of the theater, there was an argument that ensued.”
Nghi Ho, on vacation with his family from Houston, couldn’t believe what happened next.
“The next thing I know the theater is filing out, I didn’t think a theater could empty that quickly,” said Ho.
“It was a stampede of people running out of the theater,” said Butler.
Ho’s family ran with the crowd, but he decided to stay put.
“I just crouched down and looked back to see what was going on,” said Ho.
Butler stayed too. When he finally stepped out, he found his brother outside armed, well sort of.
“My brother had collected a dust pan and a broom. We waited for the gentleman. When I said ‘There’s the guy’ he went after him and I could hear this huge crack of the broom go over the guy’s back and the guy was trying to run out,” said Butler.
“Instinctively, I just jumped on him, trying to collar him around the neck area,” said Ho.
Tow other patrons joined in and together they pinned Escamillo to a staircase. Ho said his breath reeked of alcohol.
“He said ‘It wasn’t me man, let me go’. Whatever, I was like ‘You tell that to the police’,” said Ho. “I was just hanging on for dear life.”
Police arrived minutes later and took over. Ho said he got a lecture from his wife.
“I got an earful,” said Ho. “What a stupid thing to do but it was just pure adrenaline.”
“We weren’t going to let someone get away with that, especially with the way tension is after the Colorado shootings,” said Butler. “We felt that it was appropriate to really let this guy know that he couldn’t mess with us.”
While the theater handed out free tickets for the movie goers to come back at a future date, Butler said he’ll pass.
“I think I’m going to wait until it comes out on video,’ said Butler.
Witnesses told police no shots were fired. However, his yelling outside the theater that he “didn’t shoot anyone” may have prompted the calls to 911 that there had been a shooting at the movie theater.
“There was a disturbance in a theatre at approximately midnight in South Beach. Regal takes the matter very seriously, accordingly we are working closely with local police,” said Regal’s Vice President of Marketing Russ Nunley. “Regal, our employees and security personnel remain alert and engaged. Our number one priority remains the safety and security of guests and employees.”
A records check showed Escamillo had a warrant out on him for battery. He’s been charged with causing a disturbance in an establishment and affray (fighting in a public place).