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US Army officials warn of mass shooting threats at ‘Joker’ movie showing

A police car. (Dreamstime/TNS)
September 27, 2019

The upcoming release of a new film, Joker, has U.S. Army officials concerned about the safety of their Soldiers when they enter movie theaters.

Following warnings by the FBI, U.S. Army officials from Fort Sill, Okla. have instructed soldiers to be on alert for potential mass shooters. The technology and social website Gizmodo reported that Texas law enforcement officials also raised concerns about “disturbing and very specific chatter” on “dark web” sites by “involuntary celibates” (incels) targeting an unknown movie theater where the film will be shown.

When the FBI shared its concerns, Army officials issued an emailed safety notice for soldiers to take precautions against a mass shooter, telling them to “identify two escape routes” and be familiar with the “run, hide, fight” protocol.

“Run if you can,” soldiers were told. “If you’re stuck, hide (also known as ‘sheltering in place’), and stay quiet. If a shooter finds you, fight with whatever you can.”

The concerns about violence in a movie theater may echo a 2012 shooting attack at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. During a showing of a then-recently released Batman film, 12 people were killed.

In a police statement following the 2012 attack, James Holmes reportedly told law enforcement officials that he was inspired by the famed Batman villain, the Joker.

Gizmodo went on to say that James Holmes had become “a bit of a hero” to the incel community, as has the character of the Joker. Families of those killed in the 2012 attack reportedly wrote a letter to the Warner Bros. film studio, raising concerns about the latest Joker film could inspire more violent attacks. Warnings by the FBI and the U.S. Army appeared to confirm that concern.

“We do this routinely because the safety and security of our workforce is paramount,” an Army spokesperson told Gizmodo.

Gizmodo also reported the comments of another source, an Air Force officer at Robins Air Force Base in Georgia who spoke on the condition of anonymity, to say the safety notice would have only been issued for a “credible” threat.

The first published email said, “this presents a potential risk to DOD personnel and family members, though there are no known specific credible threats to the opening of the Joker on 4 October.”

An updated version of the Gizmodo report included a second notice issued by Fort Sill officials on Monday. The notice reiterated those concerns of “disturbing and very specific chatter,” but again could not specify if a particular theater was at particular risk.