Amanda Raus, Chris Podosek
New Haven police apprehended a man who brought a loaded handgun into a movie theater during a showing of "The Dark Knight Rises" on Tuesday night. On Wednesday, Sung Ho Hwang said he brought the gun with him to feel safe. and that he was legally allowed to carry it.
Editor's Note: Charges against Sung-Ho Hwang have been dropped.
New Haven police apprehended a man who brought a loaded handgun into a movie theater during a showing of "The Dark Knight Rises" in August. The day after the incident, he said he brought the gun with him to feel safe.
Sung Ho Hwang, a 46-year-old attorney from New Haven, was arrested and charged with breach of peace and interfering with police after it was discovered he brought a loaded hand gun into the theater.
"I normally do not carry, but I live in downtown New Haven and the movie was getting out at 1 a.m., so I felt that I should protect myself since I was alone," Hwang, who has a valid permit to carry a gun, said during a news conference on Wednesday afternoon.
New Haven Police responded to Criterion-Bow Tie Cinemas at 86 Temple St. after receiving a call reporting a man with a gun inside theater one or two.
According to police, an usher said at least three patrons inside the theater saw that Hwang had a holster with a gun in it and alerted theater staff, who then called police.
Police entered Theater 1 and asked the patrons to raise their hands and file out of the theater. As they exited, they were patted down and escorted outside.
The officers identified Hwang as the suspect, drew their weapons and ordered him to put his hands up.
According to police, Hwang remained in his seat using his cell phone and did not comply with the officers' commands.
Hwang said he was cooperative and followed all directions from police.
Police acted well and were professional and understanding when they found that he had a valid permit to carry the weapon, he said.
Police said they took Hwang into custody by force and officers were then able to remove the loaded handgun from his waistband at the small of his back, police said.
Officer David B Hartman, media liaison for New Haven police, told the New Haven Independent that it was a "bad choice" for Hwang to bring the gun to the theater but that it was not illegal itself and the reason he was charged was for being uncooperative.
Hwang said he had the right to bring the gun.
"There is no posting at Criterion that states that weapons are not permitted," Hwang said. "As far as the law is concerned, I have a right to carry here."
Hwang is the president-elect of the New Haven Bar Association, concentrating on immigration law and civil litigation, according to his LinkedIn page.
During his news conference, he brought up the second amendment and the right to bear arms.
"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 constitutional right to bear arms," Hwang said.
Hwang does not think the patrons who alerted theater staff did anything wrong.
"If they did suspect that someone had a weapon I would expect them to call the police. If I were in their situation, I would have done the same thing," he said.
The real issue is that the city of New Haven is unsafe, he said.
"Why do law abiding citizens feel that they need to carry a weapon? Why does New Haven have a crime index of 2, which means that 98 percent of other cities are safer? Why is New Haven considered the murder capital of Connecticut? Those are the real issues here," Hwang said.
After the mass shooting at the midnight showing of the "Dark Knight Rises" in Aurora, Colorado, New Haven police increased patrols at the Criterion Cinema, which was the only New Haven theater showing the movie at the time.
Nearly 20 New Haven police officers, two sergeants and the chief of police responded to theater On Tuesday. scene.
Hwang said he understands that we are in a state of heightened security since the Colorado shooting.
"I really feel for the victims and I pray for their family members," Hwang said.