DENVER -- What was supposed to be a regular night at the movies ended up being anything but for James Mapes on Sunday.
The Northglenn man was arrested in the middle of a movie at the Cinebarre Theater in Thornton after someone called police to report that a man had gone into the theater with a gun.
Mapes told 7NEWS that he’s worn his sidearm into the same theater several times.
“Never had a problem,” he said.
That changed on Sunday.
“The movie stopped and the lights came on,” Mapes said. “Someone said, ‘I just got a call from my friend who said there’s someone in the theater with a gun.’”
Mapes said he stood up told fellow patrons that he had a concealed carry permit.
He said he started to walk out and noticed all the police.
Mapes said, “I put my hands out and said, ‘I’m coming out, don’t shoot. I have a concealed carry permit. My gun is holstered.’”
He said police took his gun, handcuffed him and placed him under arrest.
“I’m kind of indignant about it,” he said. “I wasn’t doing anything wrong.”
Mapes said he wears his sidearm for safety reasons.
“A theater is no different than a grocery store or a gas station,” he said. “If a criminal is going to attack, you need to be able to defend yourself.”
Mapes attorney, Robert Wareham, said there should never have been an arrest.
“If I were the city of Thornton, I would move expeditiously to dismiss this case and issue a formal apology to my client,” Wareham said.
Wareham said Coloradans, with the exception of Denver, have had the right to openly carry firearms since 1865.
Thornton police say the case is still under investigation.
They said Mapes was originally arrested for possession of a dangerous weapon in a liquor or beer establishment.
The Cinebarre Theater serves alcohol.
But Wareham says the summons issued to Mapes alleges that he was brandishing or flourishing his firearm.
“It never left my holster,” Mapes said.
“We’ve turned it over to the City Attorney’s Office,” said Police Department spokesman Matt Barnes. “They’ll decide whether to add charges, remove some or dismiss them.”
Barnes said investigators have to look at the totality of the case, including what happened in Aurora, where a gunman killed 12 people and injured 58 others at the Century 16 Theaters.
“I understand that,” Wareham said. “But we don’t arrest innocent people and violate their civil rights and their constitutional rights because of the mood of the moment.”
Mapes said Thornton police also contacted him the same night the tragedy happened in Aurora.
“I was leaving the Cinebarre Theater and they came up, and said they needed to check my firearm,” he said. “They checked it, then gave it back to me. They were very professional.”
He said police should have handled it the same way on Sunday.
Barnes said that if Mapes had concealed his weapon, there wouldn’t be an issue.
“We wouldn’t be having this conversation,” Barnes said.
But Wareham, who is a former police officer who also wears a sidearm, said a law-abiding citizen shouldn’t have to do that.
“I joke with my friend, the sheriff of Douglas County, that I’m not going to wear a coat to make someone more comfortable on a 100 degree day,” Wareham said. “I’m within my rights.”
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