Theater Shooting Scenario: What Would You Do?

theater shooting

theater shooting scenario

Would you know what to do in a theater shooting? Would you be able to protect yourself, your family and your fellow patrons?

The fictional story below accounts how one man reacted to a theater shooting. Do you think he handled it well? Would you do anything different? Let us know in the comments.

Theater Shooting Scenario: What Would You Do?

Every so often, you gotta give in to your wife, right? I mean, happy wife = happy life. So, I finally gave in to her endless pleas to go see the latest chick flick at the theater up the street. After we waited in line for what seemed to be an eternity, with her hanging all over my arm, wanting to hold my hands and plant wet ones all over my face, we were finally able to pay for the movie.

Of course, we got her some popcorn, a soda and some Swedish Fish to snack on. We found our way 2/3 of the way back in a packed out movie theater with stadium style seating.

At least these chairs recline a bit so I can catch a few winks of sleep, I thought as my day dreaming made my foot catch one of the steps prematurely. I lost my balance, but thankfully, I was able to juggle all of the food that my wife wanted no part in carrying.

She'd eat it though.

As soon as we sat down she ripped the popcorn out of my hands with eyes glued to the big screen in front.

Ah well. Even though she was a pain, I loved her. She was my gal.

I'm not sure exactly when, but shortly after that, I fell asleep and was eventually woken up by a very loud and realistic bang along with screams of bloody murder.

Groggily, I sat up in my chair and glanced over to see my wife's stricken face with eyes and mouth agape. A look of sheer terror in her face, I asked her what happened.


Up front, what sounded like two gunshots accompanied by two flashes of light echoed throughout the giant room. Clearly, this was not a part of the movie, because the screen portrayed a couple of chicks driving in a car, smiling and singing their favorite song.

There was a lot of noise and screaming coming from the front of the theater, most of which I couldn't make out. However, one very agitated female voice kept screaming over and over: “You killed him! You killed him!”

Someone has to be playing a joke on us. Right? Because this sort of stuff doesn't actually happen to ordinary people in our little hometown. Does it?


This time, my wife let out a shrill noise, but I didn't bother to look at her. There was someone up in the front of the theater who had a gun, and may have actually killed someone. There were people shrieking all around the room, and people were hiding behind seats out of fear of being the next victim.

“Baby? Baby listen to me. I need you to get down on the ground and lay there until it is safe. Okay? Can you do that for me?”

Nothing. She was in shock. I looked back to the front of the theater just in time to see this criminal pointing his gun toward those of us lucky enough to be in the back.

Just as the first shot rang out, I threw my wife to the ground and got on top of her.

I'm not sure how many shots were fired this time, but one thing was for sure: this bastard's gotta go. I told her to stay put one more time, and I formulated a plan to put an end to this madness.

The gun shots were loud. Much louder than anything I've ever heard before, even though I regularly go to the range to train with my own pistol. I guess that's why I wear ear protection, though.

I got up to my knees so I could peer up and over the seat back. I couldn't see anything at this point because the screen went dark. The criminal must have been shooting at the projection room in order to get the last advantage over his victims. And now, it was pitch black in here minus the very dim running lights on the ground. I knew that if I turned my phone light on, he'd have a target to shoot at.

Suddenly, from off to my right somewhere, came an elderly male voice that said, “What do you want from us?”

The reply came in the form of a few gunshots. I ducked back down behind the seat for cover.

I had no way of knowing what time it was, or when and if the police were called. Even if they were called, this was a hostage situation, and they wouldn't come storming in here when there were innocent lives at stake.

I had my pistol, but I couldn't just shoot blindly because that would put other lives in danger. I peered around the corner, and as I did, the main lights came on. It was disorienting at first. Sort of like when you first wake up in the middle of the night to take a leak and accidentally turn the light switch on. Only this was brighter.

I was able to get a good look at this felon once my eyes fully adjusted to the bright lights. He was wearing a ski mask, and had a pistol in his hand. He continually paced back and forth and waved the pistol in the air. He could have been saying something, but I wasn't exactly sure.

There was a slight chance that I could creep up behind him whenever he walked away from me, and I took that chance.

I slowly made my way down the stairs to the front of the theater, hiding whenever necessary, and was just a few yards away from him when we made eye contact. Instantly realizing that I wasn't there a few minutes before, he pointed his gun at me, and the hairs on my neck stood on end.

I ducked, but not before the bullet from his gun hit me in the shoulder. It hurt. A lot. He must have known that he hit me, because he walked over to were I was laying, and looked at me with anger in his eyes.

This is a man who has nothing left to lose, and it was now or never. I pulled my pocket .380 and put 3 rounds into his chest. He took a few steps back, dazed, but clearly wearing a bullet proof vest.

He raised his pistol and pointed it at me. What should I do next?

Click here for the conclusion of this story.

How would you handle a theater shooting scenario like the one described above? Share your thoughts in the comments.

10 Responses to :
Theater Shooting Scenario: What Would You Do?

  1. Jack Scholbe says:

    I would like to think I could adjust my aim to his groin area or head and keep on firing if it was clear behind him.

  2. DEFENDER88 says:

    Well my wife will have her gun and I will have mine.
    1st know this – since I argue our case for gun rights on left wing anti-gun forums I have come to know that even if I take out the shooter I will probably get sued by some L. Wing anti-gun nut – I have been told this several times. Even if I save their life. Yup – unbelievable but true.
    So, given that, we are going to get down, take cover, she will watch left and I will watch right.
    And stay put unless he approaches us.
    If, but only if, he does come for US, we will take him out.
    Thus satisfying the 3 rules for “our” self defense – The threat has – Opportunity, Intent, Ability – against US.
    I will have 9 shots, 9mm, in 1st mag(S&W Shield)(w/night sights) – 1st sequence – 2 center mass, 2 groin/hips, 2 head. 3 spares I will probably shoot out also. I also carry a Tac Light, knife, etc.
    Hornaday Critical Defense HP’s. (Helps with limiting shoot-thrus).
    Also if I am on the floor and he is standing the traj should help limit potential shoot thrus.
    Quick Slide Lock Reload and hold or shoot again if he is still a threat – to “US”.
    Assuming I don’t totally freak out.
    But I do practice this crap a lot in IDPA scenarios so maybe my training will kick in.
    Also, it wont be my 1st “real” gun fight.
    Been there, done that, did not like it.
    But Not Interested in saving people who have told me they will sue me(no matter the outcome) if I fire.
    What a world we live in now.

    1. DEFENDER88 says:

      That’s fine, but if you don’t do it right there is a good chance you will end up in jail.
      I would just as soon be killed than be in jail for defending myself.
      I tell you now – if you have never been in a real gun fight you have no idea how hard it really is.
      Also if you are serious about “Self Defense” then you should get serious.
      Find the nearest gun club that sponsors IDPA matches, go watch one, talk to the people there about self defense.
      It will be an eye-opener for you. And if you listen to what they tell you maybe keep you out of jail and learn how to really, actually be able to defend yourself the right way without getting shot.
      ps I shoot IDPA (ie Combat Pistol) competitions and 3Gun.
      I am retired but volunteer some now as a State Certified Firearms Instructor for local police.
      I still practice shooting about 1,000 rds/mo in defensive tactical combat shooting.
      There is a “lot” more to it then you seem to know.

  3. CaptTurbo says:

    Seems to me his mistake was that his target was still standing and he stopped firing. Fire until the threat is eliminated or your magazine runs dry. At that point reload and repeat, adjusting points of impact for desired affect.

  4. Bernard Dailey Jr. says:

    I live in Michigan and from my understanding under the Michigan conceal carry statute if the seating capacity is equal to or exceeds 2,500 that venue is PISTOL FREE ZONE!! So what are we to do, just not go to theaters where the capacity exceeds 2,500? It seem like certain laws are just making it more danderous for law biding citizens and anyone knowing this can just take advantage of those of us who want to do things by the law!!

  5. Objectivist Newbie says:

    Why would you sneak up on a active shooter with your own pistol in your pocket?

  6. I think a good place to start would be DON’T GO TO SLEEP IN THE THEATRE! Situational awareness, especially in this type of situation, which has become one of the more popular targets of late. As for targeting, I agree – chest, groin, thighs, head. Don’t fire and stop, giving them a chance to regroup. That’s like thinking you’re going to have a one punch fight. If you’re really lucky, maybe. But I wouldn’t count on it.

  7. Mort Leith says:

    I would pull my legal concealed weapon and shoot the MFer and save tons of lives that libT ards are OK will allowing to die…

  8. Mort Leith says:

    ORrrrrr, I would be a nitwit liberal and wait like a helpless idi0t for the cops to arrive 20 minutes AFTER we are all murdered.,, in a liberal ‘Gun-Free Zone’ !

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