Minutes after he heard reports of an active shooter at the Carmike Hickory 8, Officer Jonathan Frith opened the door of Theater 4 and stepped into the darkness.
Police tried to get Montano to leave, and an officer reported Montano flailing his arms wildly toward him. He fired a shot and backed out of the theater.
In one of the two bags he brought in – a backpack – was what looked like a bomb, but it turned out to be fake. A Sprint Store attendant nearby the crime scene claims the same man tried to enter her store through the back door prior to the incident. Officers believed Montano could have had explosives and deemed him an imminent threat. She said she hadn’t seen Montano since 2013 and he was a “paranoid schizophrenic” who had trouble taking care of himself. He alienated his own family, ended up homeless and shifted from state to state.
“We took cover underneath the seats until they came for us”, she said. The pepper spray also contained red dye, according to police reports.
[Database of the people shot and killed by police in 2015].
But on Wednesday, as a police officer in his hometown, he engaged an enemy who was a lot closer than any had ever been. Montano had previously checked in at the facility in May, but also was not recorded as staying the night.
“Nashvillians should know they have a courageous, well-trained police department”, Aaron added. Montano had been charged with assault and resisting arrest in Murfreesboro in 2004, police said.
Aaron said Montano repeatedly pointed his weapon at SWAT officers and began hurling objects at them, including canisters of the chemical spray.
The propane tank Montano carried had been gashed, possibly by the ax, and the gas escaped. Injuries to those on the scene included a man cut in the shoulder by Montano’s ax, and a family-of-three receiving treatment for pepper spray contamination. A SWAT team entered next, and Montano aimed his pellet gun at them.
After awhile, authorities said Montano approached those two women and doused them with pepper spray. They also said he had suffered from mental problems in the past, and that he had been in an institution at least three times while living in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Four or five officers were along the side of the building during the time of the shooting, as reported by Brad Ransom in an interview with CNN. Aaron said the officer was told Montano was not there. Police took Montano to a mental hospital for an evaluation, though the results of that are unclear.
In September of that year, police returned after the mother and son had an argument over him not mowing the lawn. Some of the theatergoers ran out and alerted police.
Officials said Montano was known to have psychiatric issues, and he had allegedly been committed various times to facilities in the Nashville area.
Just weeks ago, a 59-year-old man shot and killed two people in a Lafayette, Louisiana, movie theater before killing himself.
Pruett told police she hadn’t seen her son since March 2013.
Montano had been arrested in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, police said.
Attempts to reach Pruett through telephone numbers listed for her and other messages were unsuccessful. All total, he hit three people with pepper spray and one person with the ax.
When confronted by at least 5 officers, the suspect fled to the back of the building where authorities say he opened fire on officers.