City | 12:34 pm | August 8, 2012 | By James Lu

Armed man arrested at Criterion ‘Dark Knight’ screening

At a screening of the new Batman movie at the Criterion Tuesday night, police arrested an armed man who they said did not comply with officers' instructions.
At a screening of the new Batman movie at the Criterion Tuesday night, police arrested an armed man who they said did not comply with officers' instructions. Photo by YDN.

A 46-year-old New Haven man was arrested Tuesday evening after bringing a .40-caliber semi-automatic pistol into a screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” at the Criterion movie theater.

Sung-Ho Hwang was charged with breach of peace and interfering with police for his refusal to comply immediately with the instructions of New Haven Police Department officers, who were called to the theatre at 10:11 p.m. Tuesday, according to department spokesman David Hartman. Two sergeants and almost 20 officers responded to multiple reports that a man at the theater had an unconcealed handgun at his waist.

After officers arrived at the scene, they first searched Theater 2, which was screening “The Watch.” They then turned their attention to Theater 1, which was showing “The Dark Knight Rises” — the same film that was opening at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., on July 20 when a gunman opened fire, killing 12 people and injuring 58 others.

In Theater 1, officers told moviegoers to raise their hands and file out of the theater; patrons were patted down as they were escorted outside.

Meanwhile, officers identified Hwang with his weapon and repeatedly ordered him to put his hands up.

“He remained in his seat while using his cell phone,” Hartman said. “He did not comply with the officers’ commands, and was taken into custody by force. Officers removed a loaded handgun from the suspect’s waistband at the small of his back.”

Because Hwang, a former president of the New Haven County Bar Association, had a valid permit to carry a pistol, he was not arrested for the illegal possession of a firearm. Instead, he was arrested for his “unwillingness to comply” with police instructions, Hartman said.

Less than a day after the shootings in Aurora, the NHPD announced they would be giving “special attention” to Criterion, assigning supplemental beat patrols at the theater.

Mayor John DeStefano Jr. and NHPD Chief Dean Esserman are scheduled to hold a press conference at City Hall to address the incident Wednesday at 4 p.m.

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