The president-elect of the New Haven Bar Association was arrested Tuesday night after allegedly bringing a loaded handgun into a Connecticut movie theater during a showing of "The Dark Knight Rises," New Haven police said.
Sung Ho Hwang, 46, an attorney, was arrested and charged with breach of peace and interfering with police.
Officials said concerned moviegoers Tuesday spotted Hwang walking into the Criterion Bow-Tie Cinema with a holstered gun and called police.
More than 20 officers responded, and patrons were asked to raise their hands and file out of the theater. As they exited, they were patted down and escorted outside.
"All I can see in my head is these long assault rifles being pointed at me," recalled moviegoer Porsche Edmundson as she found herself surrounded by police. "I was like, 'OK, just breathe and go real slow, real slow because you don't know what the hell is going on.'"
When the officers found Hwang, they drew their weapons and ordered him to put his hands up. Police said Hwang remained in his seat using his cell phone and did not comply with the officers' commands.
He was taken into custody by force, and officers were then able to remove the loaded handgun from the waistband at the small of his back, police said.
Hwang has a valid permit to carry a pistol in Connecticut.
At a press conference Wednesday, Hwang said he took a gun with him to the late-night showing of the movie because he was going alone and wanted to protect himself.
"There is no posting at Criterion that states that weapons are not permitted," said Hwang. "As far as the law is concerned, I have a right to carry there."
Officer David B Hartman, media liaison for New Haven police, told the New Haven Independent that Hwang made a "bad choice" in bringing the gun to the theater, but he was charged for being uncooperative, not for being armed.
Hwang insisted he was "cooperative" and that he followed the police officers' directions.
After the mass shooting at the midnight showing of the "Dark Knight Rises" in Aurora, Colo., New Haven police increased patrols at the Criterion Cinema, which was the only New Haven theater showing the movie at the time.
Hwang said he understood theaters were in a heightened state of security since the Aurora shootings, and added that he did not think the patrons did anything wrong but that he thought police should also protect the Second Amendment.
Police said there were no prior threats at the theater.
Since the Colorado shootings, several instances of people bringing weapons to showings of the film have been reported across the country.
Over the weekend, a man in northeast Ohio brought a gun, ammunition and several knives to a screening because he wanted to protect himself in case someone tried to replicate the shooting, his attorney said. The man was arrested.
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