Cinemagoers in Missouri called police after seeing what they thought was a man carrying an assault weapon at a movie theatre.
In fact, it was a promotion by the management of the Goodrich Capital 8 theatre in Jefferson City featuring actors dressed up to look like members of S.H.I.E.L.D., the superhero agency from Marvel Comics featured in the 'Iron Man' and 'Avengers' films.
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But the performance instead caused several members of the public to make panicked calls to the authorities, in light of the shooting at the cinema in Aurora, Colorado, last summer, with armed police descending on the scene.
John Morlock, a US Army veteran, told ABC 17 News: “We had just finished watching 'Iron Man 3'. We're just getting into the car when I spotted a man in full assault gear, carrying what appeared to be a modified M-4 and 9 mm on his side.”
“We received a series of 911 calls stating that a man dressed in all black and body armor and a rifle was walking into Capital 8 Theaters,” said Captain Doug Shoemaker from the Jefferson City Police Department.
“Everything was in place, it’s the opening night of a superhero movie, it’s somebody walking in all-dark clothes, everything pointed to bad things about to happen. There’s really no good that can come of this.”
You can see the ABC 17 News footage here.
Manager of the theatre chain Bob Wilkins has since made an apology to cinemagoers, who were not warned that there would be a performance following the film.
“We apologize and are sympathetic to those who felt they were in harm’s way with our character promotion for 'Iron Man 3',” he said in a statement.
“This was not a publicity stunt. We have worked with the Cosplacon group on many movies to dress up and help entertain our customers. We have had many complaints about the members dressed specifically as S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives carrying fake guns.
“We didn’t clearly tell our customers and some people didn’t realize it was for entertainment purposes only. We apologize that police were called to come out to our theater. We have a wonderful working relationship with the Jefferson City Police Department.
“Going forward we will take the necessary steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again. Security and safety for our customers is our number one priority.”