Sacremento, Calif. – A witness says theater goers ran for cover as a guman fired shots during the opening ceremony of the Paradise Theater, celebrating the completion of its renovation.
Security personnel shot the lone gunman. One accomplice was trampled as people fled the scene. Both are in critical condition at Ascension Memorial Hospital, under armed guard.
The man, said to be an Asian-American in his 70s and from Seattle, posed as a member of the Northwestern Theater Appreciation Society, and began firing shots in the theater moments before the program was to begin, Flint Ridge Sheriff’s Office spokesman John Urquhart said.
“He screamed that everyone should leave and started shooting. We started running and we could hear bullets bouncing off the ceiling above us,” said local resident, Shanae Hover.
“In my whole life I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Jack Hover.“I was so scared, I was shocked and couldn’t move, I heard the gunshot, I don’t know it was like a like and death situation so I ran outside as fast as I could,” said one witness.
Richard Denbey, had just started his position as an usher for the newly renovated theater. When he heard the shots he went into the theater to investigate and saw a herd of patrons, running toward him.
“Came sprinting down the aisle, terrified looks on their faces,” he said. “We hustled them outside and they were nearly sick to their stomachs with fear.”
“They’re huddled behind cars in the parking lot, staying close together, scared out of their minds,” said Chase Hawkins.
“I would say we were very, very lucky,” said Olerich. “We could’ve been in the absolute wrong place at the wrong time … it’s a miracle no one was hurt.”
Security managed to surround the suspect in the back loading dock. He was still firing his weapon when he was shot by police.
Several roads were closed for the investigation:
• Second Avenue Southeast from Front Street South to East Sunset Way.
• Front Street South from Second Avenue Southeast to Newport Way Northwest.
FLINT 5’s Natasha Ryan and Eric Wilkinson contributed to this report.