HOWELL-A bomb scare at the local Howell Xscape movie theater turned out to be a false alarm according to police here.
According to witnesses, moviegoers were interrupted after three men walked into the theater with backpacks on and plugged a backpack into an electrical outlet inside one of the theaters as a movie was playing.
Moviegoers confronted the three men.
Jackson resident John Maneri was in the theater at the time of the event. Maneri said as a man was confronting the three men, others in the theater began panicking over the backpack plugged into the wall. He said somebody in the theater yelled “Oh my God, get out and run!” Panic ensued.
Maneri said he and his girlfriend exited the theater along with the other moviegoers, but as he and other safely reached the exit, he heard a scream coming from within the theater. He ran in and saw a woman who had tripped and fallen, so he said he helped her out of the theater.
Police locked down the theater and detained a person who they determined to be the source of the scare.
According to police, the subject who is a caretaker for a disabled person in a wheelchair entered a theatre towards the end of a movie. This caused the alert patrons to become suspicious. The caretaker had a backpack that contained a large heavy battery for the electric wheelchair. Apparently he placed the backpack down causing a sound similar to a gunshot. Patrons immediately evacuated the theatre while calling 9-1-1.
Besides the 10 Howell patrol units, Lakewood and Jackson Police provided assistance. All of the officers were used to clear the entire theatre, parking lot and surrounding areas. Southard Fire, Howell First Aid Squad and Howell Police EMS were also on scene.
“We thank all agencies involved for their assistance. We also acknowledge the patrons who thought there was something suspicious and did something about it,” said Chief Andrew Kudrick. “They didn’t ignore it. Although this was not a legitimate incident, all the patrons thought it was at the time. This is another example why it is so important if you see something, say something.”