Police: Misinterpreted video game reference cleared theater

Credit: WJLA
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ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) — Police in northern Virginia have concluded that the evacuation of a shopping mall last month happened because a child shouted a misinterpreted video game reference inside a movie theater.

The Washington Post reported Wednesday that authorities found that no crime was committed. They also said no charges will be filed regarding the incident in mid-September in Arlington.

Police interviewed witnesses and reviewed surveillance footage that showed a juvenile shouting, "Pennywise has sharpshooter activated!" during the movie "IT: Chapter Two." The juvenile was referencing the clown antagonist of the "IT" franchise. It's based on a 1986 novel by Stephen King.

"Sharpshooter mode" is a feature in some video games.

Some interpreted that to mean there was an active shooter. Authorities say one person suffered a minor injury during the ensuing evacuation.


Sept. 16

Police in northern Virginia believe the evacuation of an entire shopping mall this weekend happened because a child shouted inside a movie theater about a shooter.

The reports about a shooting led to a massive police presence Saturday evening at the Ballston Quarter mall in Arlington and search. The Arlington County Police Department says it found no evidence that a shooting took place.

An Arlington County news release on Sunday said a preliminary investigation suggests the unknown male youth entered a theater where a horror movie was playing and shouted— leading people inside to flee and yell for 911 calls. The police investigation is continuing.

Authorities say one person suffered a minor injury while evacuating.