The Force is With Us: Police Protect at Penn Cinema ‘Star Wars’ Opening
Security, Screenings Provide Peace of Mind for Movie Patrons
Officers from the Manheim Township Police Department sprang into action last night when a woman emerged from Theater 13 and cried for help with a medical emergency involving her husband during the 7 p.m. showing of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Officer Aaron McCoy raced through the lobby with a medical kit, reaching the unidentified man just moments after two other officers. A 911 call was issued and emergency medical personnel responded quickly to the scene. The man, who had reportedly become unresponsive during a 3-D showing of the film, may have experienced a seizure.
Members of the Manheim Township Police force were on hand for the opening night of Star Wars: The Force Awakens for crowd control, parking enforcement, and to keep patrons safe.
“Penn Ketchum was very security conscious for his customers,” said Sgt. Jeff Jones, from his vantage point behind the ticket taker in the lobby leading to the theaters. Every bag was inspected on the way in, and patrons with tickets were issued a wristband for easy identification.
Moviegoers were advised in advance to carpool as much as possible, since the turnout was expected to be in the thousands for the long-awaited sequel to the original Star Wars trilogy starring Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, and Carrie Fisher. By 7:30 p.m., the parking lot was full to overflowing, with vehicles lining the entryways and able-bodied drivers asking if they could park in handicap spaces.
Many Lititz fans turned out in costume, wearing masks and carrying light-up light saber weapons. Penn Cinema had published guidelines in advance to their Facebook page that advised patrons that masks would not be allowed beyond the lobby, and no weapons, either toy or real, would be permitted.
While Wookies, droids, and those dressed as Dark Side characters complied, at least one moviegoer later posted to Facebook that he had carried his concealed weapon into the theater Thursday night. He claims to have seen no posted signs and to have entered the theater with his gun completely unaware of the restriction.
There appeared to be no use of metal detectors or wands as patrons entered the theater. Bag checks tend to target women, who more often carry a firearm in a purse. Men, however, usually carry a firearm on their person.
The man who experienced the medical emergency reportedly recovered enough to speak and respond to emergency personnel. Patrons were reassured to see the police department on patrol at Penn Cinema on Thursday night.
“Everyone’s been very cordial, thanking us for our presence,” Jones said. “It was an event for these people, it was more than a movie.”