Christopher Sides was pacing in front of the Premier Theater in Melbourne, Florida around 10:30 yesterday morning. He had bought a ticket to The Expendables 2
and was waiting for the movie to begin.
Sides was dressed as The Joker from the Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises
. He was wearing a leather jacket and boots. He had black, red and white makeup on his face and his hair was dyed red. A nervous moviegoer called police because his appearance was similar to that of the man who opened fire at a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises
in Aurora, Colorado.
At the screening of the Batman movie on July 20, 2012 in Aurora, a gunman, dressed as the Joker, opened fire, killing 12 people and wounding 58 others. James Holmes was arrested shortly after the deadly shootings.
Sides was not doing anything wrong. Sheridan Shelley, a spokesman for the Melbourne Police Department, was quoted in the Orlando Sentinel
as saying, "He made no threats, had no weapons, he created no disturbance." He was also described as being cooperative with police.
The New York Daily News
reports Sides said he had never heard about the Colorado shooting and could not understand why people were so alarmed at the way he was dressed.
During their investigation of Sides, police discovered he had an outstanding warrant. It is alleged he failed to appear in court on a misdemeanor drug paraphernalia charge. He was arrested on the warrant.
asked movie patrons how they would feel if they saw someone dressed like Sides. Sonia Vargas said, "I'd have a heart attack. I'd panic, it's very scary." When Edwin Mercardo was asked if he would be comfortable sitting next to someone dressed like Sides in a theater, he replied, "At this time, probably not."
spoke with some of Sides' acquaintances. One person said he did not think Sides was violent while another agreed, saying he did things just to bring attention to himself.
Others disagreed. One person said Sides got into confrontations with neighbours and used to swing a samurai sword around. Another called him "unstable" and said he had been involuntarily committed for mental health issues, three times in the last three years.
After his arrest, Sides was taken to the Melbourne Police Department for questioning and then transferred to the Brevard County Jail. He appears in court today.