Teen shot after Saturday confrontation at Washington, Pa., theater

WASHINGTON, Pa. — A teenager was shot late on Saturday after an adult man — armed with a gun — confronted him and his companions at a North Franklin Township movie theater.

State police said they don’t know who pulled the trigger after the man, from Greene County, pulled a gun during the fight with a group of six boys inside Regal Cinemas at Washington Crown Center around midnight.

The names of those involved were not released by state police as of Sunday.

The man and the boy, who was shot in the lower leg, were taken to area hospitals, treated and later released. No one has been charged. State police said they’re working with the Washington County district attorney’s office to conduct additional interviews in the ongoing investigation.

An eyewitness described the adult as a middle-aged white man and “a big guy.” She said the boy who was shot and others in his group were black.

Police said the altercation began because the group was changing seats and being disruptive during the movie.

The witness — who didn’t wish to be identified but said she lives in Canton Township and is a senior at Trinity Area High School — said that wasn’t accurate.

She said some of the group did move during the previews, but stayed put once the movie, “Us,” started.

“It wasn’t a disturbance,” she said. “They weren’t getting up and moving around.”

She granted an interview the next day in the theater parking lot. She said she recognized at least some of the kids in the group as students at Washington High School.

“The kids, the teenagers, they were laughing whenever it was funny, and they were making comments to each other,” she said. “But we were like six seats down from them, and it wasn’t disrupting the movie at all.”

The unidentified patron said the older man, who was sitting in the row ahead of her, stood up partway through the movie and said something to the teens. She recalled him later telling them, “Everyone in this audience paid for their tickets.”

One of the teens answered him, the patron said.

“All he said back was, ‘We paid for our tickets, too,'” she said.

“And then the older guy told the kids to shut the ‘F’ up.”

At this point, she said the adult man walked up the side of the theater to the back where the teens were seated, got “in their face” and yelled at them.

“And then they just started fighting,” she said.

State police said the fight moved into the hallway toward the exit of the screening room, where the man pulled a gun. A struggle for the weapon started and the teen was shot.

The moviegoer, who shared her account with the (Washington) Observer-Reporter, said she and her sister had gone to the front desk to notify staff of the fight and then headed back to see if it was still going on before the gun went off.

“Once we heard the gunshot, I just told her, ‘We’re going to the car,'” she said.

Some members of the audience left when the fight began.

“Even after it went off, there were still people trying to get out,” the witness said.

She thought the man would have reacted differently if the teens had been white.

“I don’t know what he was expecting going up to a group of friends and yelling at one of them in their faces,” she added. “He knew what was going to happen.”

A call to theater owner Regal Entertainment Group’s corporate office in Knoxville, Tenn., Sunday afternoon was not immediately returned.

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