LOS ANGELES, Calif.--The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department placed itself on "heightened alert" today in response to this morning's massacre in Colorado and vowed to to beef up patrols around movie theaters to stave off a repeat of the violence.
Around a dozen people were killed and 38 wounded when a heavily armed gunman opened fire at a midnight showing in Aurora, Colo., of the Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises."
"While the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado, appears to be an isolated incident, our vigilance has been raised,'' sheriff's Capt. Mike Parker said in a statement. "The heightened alert of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department includes increased patrols to create a more visible presence at movie theaters and other places where people congregate.
"As always, we encourage the public, 'If you see something, say something,' "Parker said. "The greatest deterrent to crime is often a phone call to law enforcement by a person who sees something that just doesn't seem right."
The Sheriff's Department patrols the vast unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County and, by contract, some 40 municipalities.
Police Cmdr. Andy Smith, a Los Angeles Police Department spokesman, said patrol officers were dispatched to theaters in the Southland where the movie was screening after midnight and news of the massacre surfaced, but no problems were reported.
Smith said LAPD commanders were scheduled to participate in a conference call with colleagues in the law enforcement community this morning to discuss the situation and plan the appropriate security response in Los Angeles.
The shooting at the Century Aurora 16 movie theater in Aurora, Colo., allegedly was committed by James Holmes, 24, who was taken into custody in the theater's parking lot shortly after the gunfire broke out, authorities said.
Holmes allegedly wore what appeared to be a bullet-proof vest and riot- type mask as he opened fire in the theater with three weapons.
Holmes' parents live in the San Diego County community of Rancho Penasquitos, where the suspect went to High School.
The Motion Picture Association of America, meanwhile, issued a statement regarding the violence.
"We share the shock and sadness of everyone in the motion picture community at the news of this terrible event," said former Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, the MPAA chairman and CEO.
"We extend our prayers and deepest sympathies to the victims, their loved ones and all those affected by this tragedy." Parker echoed those sentiments.
"Our thoughts and prayers go to the many victims, families, friends, and first responders affected by this senseless crime," he said.