UPDATE: Police converge on Regal Theater after employees spot man with gun
COLUMBIA - Columbia police officers armed with assault rifles converged on the Regal 14 on Stadium Boulevard Tuesday night and began evacuating theaters after multiple reports of a man with a gun.
Ryan Priesmeyer said he was in one of the theaters when the picture turned off but the audio kept going. He left to notify an employee.
"I went out and there was a policeman right outside of the doors with an assault rifle," Priesmeyer said. "He was like, 'You need to leave.' So I thought I'd just wait in the lobby area and then there were more policemen with more guns. And I thought I'd just be waiting right there and I said, 'Can we stick around?' and they said, 'No, you need to leave.’"
Lt. Matt Stephens said police were twice called to the theater. One call was for a man with a gun in the parking lot asking for help. Police searched the parking lot but did not locate the man.
The other call, about an hour later, was for a man inside the theater with a gun. Police evacuated the theater in their search for the suspect. Multiple employees said the suspect walked into the building with a gun, Stephens said.
"The employees initially hid after they saw the man, so we don't know whether he made his way all the way into the movie theaters or whether he actually turned around and left," Stephens said.
Police had not located the suspect as of Tuesday evening, though they were at one point searching with a K-9. No one was hurt. Police had not made any arrests.
Stephens described the suspect as a man about 6 feet tall with a handgun. A vehicle description was not available since employees were inside.
Stephens said police did not have any leads to follow up on.
Moviegoers eventually returned to the theater to grab their belongings.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol assisted Columbia police officers at the scene.