Tennessee Theater Shooting: Suspect Who Allegedly Fired Pellet Gun Fatally Shot by Police, Officials Say

The 29-year-old suspect shot the gun inside a theater in Antioch on Wednesday, police said. Authorities said he sprayed three victims with pepper spray and injured one of them with a hatchet.

Police said the suspect, identified as 29-year-old Vincente David Montano, was also carrying two bags and sprayed pepper spray throughout a theater showing Mad Max: Fury Road.

Police originally identified the suspect as a 51-year-old man, but Metro Police Chief Steve Anderson clarified his age at a Wednesday evening press conference.

Montano moved to Tennessee with his mother and sister from Illinois.

Montano’s mom, Denise Pruett, purchased the Murfreesboro home in 2003.

Neighbors said police were called to the home often.

Montano was arrested by Murfreesboro police in 2004 for assault on a police officer and resisting arrest. The case was later retired, according to court records.

Neighbors said Pruett told them that Montano had a history of mental illness combined with teenage rebellion.

Pruett no longer lives in the Murfreesboro home and now lives in Florida.

The shots fired call came in to police around 1:15 p.m., and officers responded within minutes.

Metro police spokesman Don Aaron said two South Precinct officers were working a crash nearby on Bell Road when two people ran to them and notified them about an incident inside the theater. The officers then ran to the movie theater.

One of the officers entered the theater and encountered the suspect. Aaron said Montano raised his weapon and pulled the trigger. The officer returned fire and backed away.

Police said Montano was wearing a surgical mask, possibly to deal with the effects of the pepper spray. Gas masks were brought to officers because the theater was thick with the spray.

A Metro SWAT Team had set up at the back door of the theater. When Montano came out of the door, officers engaged and fatally wounded him.

Aaron said Montano was the only person shot.

“We believe the imminent threat has ended,” Aaron said.

Aaron said the Airsoft gun resembled and semi-automatic handgun and looked realistic.

“If someone confronted you with it, you would think it was a real pistol,” he said.

Aaron added an Airsoft gun will make a pop, similar to a smaller caliber handgun.

Aaron said police were “not comfortable” with the contents of the two bags Montano was carrying and they would be destroyed. At least one of those bags was detonated just before 4 p.m.

After the detonation, Aaron described the contents of the backpack as a “hoax device.” He said items inside the backpack were designed to look like an explosive, but posed no threat to officers or the community.

Nashville Fire Department spokesman Brian Haas said two women were injured from exposure to pepper spray. A man suffered superficial injuries to his shoulder, possibly from the hatchet.

“Because of the extraordinary efforts of the men and women of this police department, especially the ones that responded to this call, we have no major injuries to anyone,” Anderson said.

At a press conference Wednesday evening, Aaron said Montano had been committed four times and was reported as a missing person to Murfreesboro police on Sunday.

One of the victims, who was only identified as Steven, briefly spoke to reporters Wednesday afternoon. He thanked Metro police for their quick response. He also thanked citizens who helped him and his daughter when they were pepper sprayed.

The man said he had no idea why the suspect decided to attack the theater.

The victim said he would not be taking any more questions and asked for privacy for his family.

Before he entered the theater, police said Montano bought a ticket for Mad Max: Fury Road and bought a drink at a nearby Family Dollar store.

Aaron said the actions of the first two responding officers likely saved many lives. He said about eight people were in the theater at the time.

Officers had been at a library in Antioch where they thought they had located the suspect’s vehicle, but the library parking lot was later cleared.

Mayor Karl Dean issued the following statement concerning the shooting:

“I applaud the Metro Police Department for its great work to apprehend the suspect, keep our citizens and visitors safe, and prevent a tragedy in Antioch today. We have one of the best police forces in the nation, and it showed this afternoon in the way our officers lived up to their very thorough training. I recognize that this situation must have been traumatizing for everyone in the theater and many who were nearby, and I’m sorry that some were injured and needed treatment. I’m relieved that no one else was killed, and again, I thank the police for that.”
Officials at Vanderbilt University Medical Center confirmed no victims would be transported to the hospital.

Sean Oliver, a witness, saw the SWAT Team as they headed to the back of the theater.

“You see officers going to the back. That’s when you see them all hiding in trees,” Oliver said. “When they started shooting, you see the dust flying up.”

The Global Mall, which is located next to the theater, was placed on lock down during the active shooter situation. The Ford Ice Center was also placed on lock down and will remain closed for the rest of the day.

Ezell-Harding, a school located on Bell Road, was also on lock down.

Last month, a shooter opened fire a movie theater in Lafayette, LA. The shooter killed two and injured eight before killing himself on July 23. Police said the 58-year-old gunman was armed with a handgun and acted alone.

In 2012, another man opened fire on a movie theater in Aurora, CO, killing 12 and injuring 70 more, in one of the largest mass shootings in U.S. history. The gunman, James Holmes, has been found guilty in the attack and is going through a sentencing trial to determine if he’ll receive the death penalty.

The following two tabs change content below.

Michael Harvey

Michael Harvey has been a contributing writer and journalist for the Pluto Daily since January 2014.