NORTH NAPLES, Fla. - A night out at the movies turned chaotic and frightening in North Naples. Wink News is learning someone orchestrated a hoax about a shooting inside the theater. It sent movie-goers scrambling for the nearest exit. A couple who was inside at the time says the prank hit too close to home and they say that workers inside were not prepared.
Kelsey Moss and her husband James Elmore were among the 40 people watching the 9 o'clock opening night showing of The Other Woman at the Regal Hollywood 20 on Thursday night.
"Thirty minutes into it, the lights popped on blinding both of us," said Elmore. "Then we heard this is an emergency get out."
Elmore grabbed Moss and quickly ran to the back emergency exit, while others evacuated through the front doors.
"I was hoping it would sound and that everybody would evacuate," said Elmore. "No noise, nothing."
That deafening silence and what they say was little concern from workers motivated them to speak out.
"There was clearly no plan in place for an emergency situation," said Moss.
The couple moved to Naples from Colorado where they lived about a half-hour from where police say James Holmes shot and killed 12 people and injured 70 others during a movie theater massacre in 2012.
"Maybe having that fresh in our minds we had the sense to get out of the exit door, get out of there," said Elmore.
When deputies arrived, the couple says they treated the incident nonchalantly.
"They acted like it wasn't a big deal at all," said Moss. "But this is a huge deal. This isn't something you joke about. These are serious situations."
WINK News requested the incident report from the Collier County Sheriff's Office and found out there wasn't one. However, they did tell us they responded to the theatre.
"To find out they don't have a report on it, its kind of embarrassing I think," said Elmore.
The couple is now hoping local movie theaters will make changes to keep everyone safe.
"Movie theaters are becoming a dangerous place and its kind of sad a date night for me and my wife turns out to be a life scare for both of us," said Elmore.
WINK News contacted local fire officials and found out there's no law requiring the doors on theaters to have alarms. They only have to open.
A spokeswoman for the Collier County Sheriff's Office says when deputies arrived on scene witnesses told them that teenagers were playing a prank. The deputies even issued a "Be On The Lookout" or BOLO for their dark-colored S.U.V. But, there was no evidence of a criminal act and deputies don't write reports for all incidents.
Regal Cinemas issued this statement to Wink News:
"At Regal, the safety and security of our guests and staff are of the utmost importance. While we can't comment on a matter being investigated by the police, with whom we are fully cooperating, I can tell you that Regal will support prosecution of these individuals to the fullest extent of the law."