A Friday screening for Avengers: Infinity War reportedly turned into pandemonium after a preacher’s ominous question about death and salvation had moviegoers running for their lives.
KCBS reported that armed guards arrived at Harkins Mountain Grove 16 theaters in Redlands, California, following reports of a possible gunman. Witnesses said that, as Marvel’s latest installment ended, a preacher stood up and began reciting what sounded like a sermon.
“I think when he said, ‘If you were to die tonight, would your passage to heaven be guaranteed?’— something along those lines—I think that’s when people started panicking,” moviegoer Susie Arias told the news station.
Arias claimed that other people were jumping over railings to get out of the theater. Footage captured a man limping out of the screening while another woman had to be hospitalized for a head injury, according to KCBS.
Recent mass shootings occurring at movie theaters likely played a significant role in Friday’s incident. Twelve people were killed in 2012 when James Holmes opened fire during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises at a theater in Aurora, Colorado. In 2015, James Houser fatally shot two moviegoers watching Trainwreck at a Lafayette, Louisiana, theater before turning the gun on himself.
The station said they tracked down the preacher, Michael Webber, 28, who said he’s previously preached at the theater without any issues. He claimed that he was unaware that people couldn’t see he had his hands up while preaching, indicating that he didn’t have a weapon.
“Last night was an anomaly,” the Truth and Triumph Ministries preacher said, calling the incident “unfortunate.”
“The lights did not turn up for quite a few minutes, and so I really couldn’t see anyone’s reaction except those of the people just right around me.”
Webber has been charged with a misdemeanor for Friday’s chaotic ordeal. He said he’s not going to stop preaching but will reconsider the venue moving forward.
[Featured Image: Michael Webber/KCAL video screenshot]