A US movie theatre has faced heavy criticism after a publicity stunt involving a fake gunman frightened moviegoers and triggered a police response.As part of the stunt, to promote the opening weekend of Iron Man 3, a man wearing tactical clothing and carrying a fake gun entered a Jefferson City theatre in Missouri last weekend.
Concerned patrons contacted police believing the man to be a shooter, ABC News reports.
Retired army veteran John Molock, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, said seeing the gunman had triggered painful memories.
"We're just getting into the car when I spotted a man in full assault gear, carrying what appeared to be a modified M-4 and 9 mm on his side," he said.
But Capital 8 Theatres manager Bob Wilkins defended the stunt and said it was designed to entertain moviegoers.
Asked whether he had considered the mass shooting at a Colorado movie theatre last year when planning the stunt he said, "Absolutely".
"That's my number-one priority every day. It's the safety and security of our guests."
The company later issued an official apology stating management would "take the necessary steps to make sure this doesn't happen again."