Updated at 6:15 p.m
Sung H. Hwang's lawyer Hugh Keefe told the Associated Press today that his client's arrest Tuesday night at Criterion-Bow Tie Cinemas at 86 Temple St., was "baseless."
Hwang was charged with breach of peace and interfering with police after he was allegedly found carrying a loaded gun. He was not charged with any gun offense and holds a valid Connecticut gun permit. He was released last night on a promise to appear in court.
Keefe told the AP that his client had a right to carry his gun into the movie theater because he holds the permit.
Following a press conference today at Hwang's law firm, the New Haven mayor's office and New Haven Police Department held a press conference on the steps of City Hall regarding the incident.
In a statement (which is attached as a PDF to this article), Hwang said he does not normally carry his weapon but did so for personal protection. He stated that he lives in New Haven near the theater and he planned to walk home when the movie he was hoping to see, "The Dark Knight Rises," let out at 1 a.m. For safety, he brought his weapon, he said.
Last night, just after 10 p.m., New Haven Police responded to the Criterion-Bow Tie Cinemas in New Haven on a report of a male inside the theater with a loaded handgun, which they state was not concealed. Theater management reported the suspicious person to be located in either theater 1 or 2.
Within minutes, police were able to locate Hwang in theater 1 where about one dozen patrons were waiting for the Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises” to begin. “The theater house lights were illuminated as officers entered,” the police press release states. “Patrons were told to raise their hands and file from the theater. As they exited they were patted down and escorted outside.”
Officers then identified the suspect as Hwang who was described as having “a gun in his waistband on his back,” that was not concealed. Hwang did not move from his seat, proceeded to use his cell phone and would not cooperate with police, the statement read.
Hwang was handcuffed and removed from the theater. He was then arrested.
"I have a special conceal holster that goes under my pants and the shirt covers the holster," Hwang wrote in his statement. "There is no posting at Criterion [that] states that weapons are not permitted. As far as the law is concerned, I have a right to carry there," he added.
Hwang commended the theater-goers for being concerned and alerting the authorities and noted: "I understand that we are in a state of heightened security since the incident at Colorado a couple of months ago. I really feel for the victims and I pray for their family members."
In his statement, Hwang thanked police for their handling of the situation as well.
"I was cooperative and followed all the directions of the police," he stated. "I think that the second amendment is crucially important to protect. When baseless breach of peace and interfering charges are brought against people that have a right to carry, it really threatens our constitution right to bear arms."
A New Haven attorney was arrested Tuesday night after he allegedly brought a loaded handgun into a New Haven movie theater showing the Batman film, "The Dark Knight Rises."
Hwang, who holds a valid Connecticut gun permit, was not charged with any gun offenses.
At 10:11 p.m. Tuesday, New Haven Police were called to the Criterion - Bow Tie Cinemas at 86 Temple St. after theater management reported that there was a man inside one of the theaters with a handgun.
Officers arrived within minutes and were given the suspect's description. An usher told them that at least three patrons had said the armed man was inside, but it was unclear which theater he was in.
The patrons said that the suspect had a gun in his waistband on his back and it was not concealed.
Theater 2, featuring the film "The Watch," was searched by the first arriving officers, who then moved to Theater 1, which had about a dozen patrons inside. The Batman film, 'The Dark Knight Rises' was featured there and had not yet begun to play.
The theater house lights were illuminated as officers entered, according to reports, and patrons were told to raise their hands and file from the theater. As they exited, they were patted down and escorted outside.
Officers identified the suspect and with weapons drawn, ordered him to put his hands up. He allegedly remained in his seat while using his cell phone and did not comply with the officers' commands, and was taken into custody by force. Officers allegedly removed a loaded handgun from the suspect's waistband at the small of his back.
Theatergoers who were viewing the 10:20 p.m. screening of "The Watch" described Hwang as wearing a v-neck shirt and jeans.
"Some guy had a gun showing under his belt," one said. "He was walking behind us."
When the man walked past the theatergoers, they saw he had a gun tucked into the back of his pants. They believed he was not on his way into "The Watch."
"We talked to each other and then we talked to the manager [of the theatre]," said one of the theatergoers.
Attorney Scott McMillan of San Diego left a screening of the movie "Ted" with his family at approximately 12 a.m. McMillan was not aware of the incident, but said he "felt safe" knowing that the alleged armed man had a permit."