Nashville, TN (WKRN) – A man who entered an Antioch movie theater armed with a hatchet and gun while carrying two backpacks was killed by Metro-Nashville police Wednesday afternoon.
Officers responded to the Carmike Hickory 8 theater within 5 minutes of receiving calls shots were fired around 1:15 p.m. as they were working a nearby crash.
PHOTOS: Tennessee Theater Shooting
The suspect, who was wearing a surgical mask, reportedly began attacking people in the theater during a showing of “Mad Max: Fury Road.” According to a preliminary estimate, 20 people were inside the theater at the time.
When confronted by at least 5 officers, the suspect, a 51-year-old male, fled to the back of the building where authorities say he opened fire on them.
Metro police then returned fire, killing the suspect. His identity was not immediately released.
His backpack was detonated by the bomb squad as authorities were not comfortable opening it. The suspect also had a smaller satchel with him.
According to Brian Haas with the Nashville Fire Department, three people sustained minor injuries from being pepper sprayed, reportedly by the assailant. They were a 58-year-old man, 53-year-old woman and 17-year-old girl.
One of those three also received a bruise on the arm, reportedly from a hatchet the suspect was carrying. No one was transported to a hospital.
Don Aaron, spokesman for the Metro Nashville Police Department, said multiple lives were likely saved by the first officer who ran inside the theater.
“Nashvillians should know they have a brave, well-trained police department,” Aaron added.
Multiple other agencies responded to the scene to assist in the investigation, including the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Federal Bureau of Investigation, agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) as well as SWAT.
Witnesses were taken to a nearby location to be interviewed.
There were reports of nearby schools also being placed on lock down but students were not there at the time as Metro had a half day Wednesday.
The nearby Ford Ice Center plans to remain closed for the rest of the day. They will resume normal operations Thursday.