Updated at 6:15 p.m
Sung H. Hwang's lawyer Hugh Keefe — who also serves as an assistant town attorney for the Town of East Haven — told the Associated Press today that his client's arrest last night at Criterion-Bow Tie Cinemas at 86 Temple St., where he was found with a loaded gun in his waistband, was "baseless."
Hwang was charged with breach of peace and interfering with police. He was released last night on a promise to appear in court.
Keefe — who most recently spoke to the press that East Haven was not liable in the police shooting death of Malik Jones — told the AP that his client had a right to carry his gun into the movie theater, as Hwang has a valid state of Connecticut permit to carry a pistol.
An earlier Associated Press article stated that Hwang is a Branford resident but New Haven Police maintain that he is a New Haven resident. Hartman said it is possible that he could have an additional home in Branford. That has not been confirmed by Patch.
Following a press conference today at Hwang's law firm, the New Haven mayor's office and New Haven Police Department held a press conference at 4 p.m. on the steps of City Hall at 165 Church St., New Haven, regarding the incident.
In a statement (which is attached as a PDF to this article), Hwang said he does not normally carry his weapon but did so for personal protection. Hwang stated that he lives in New Haven near the theater and he planned to walk home when the movie he was hoping to see, "The Dark Knight Rises," let out at 1 a.m. For safety, he brought his weapon, said Hwang.
Last night, just after 10 p.m., New Haven Police responded to the Criterion-Bow Tie Cinemas in New Haven on a report of a male inside the theater with a loaded handgun, which they state, was not concealed. Theater management reported the suspicious person to be located in either theater 1 or 2.
Within minutes, police were able to locate Hwang in theater 1 where about one dozen patrons were waiting for the Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises” to begin. “The theater house lights were illuminated as officers entered,” the police press release states. “Patrons were told to raise their hands and file from the theater. As they exited they were patted down and escorted outside.”
Officers then identified the suspect as Hwang who was described as having “a gun in his waistband on his back,” that was not concealed. Hwang did not move from his seat, proceeded to use his cell phone and would not cooperate with police, the statement read.
Hwang was handcuffed and removed from the theater. He was then arrested.
"I have a special conceal holster that goes under my pants and the shirt covers the holster," Hwang wrote in his statement. "There is no posting at Criterion [that] states that weapons are not permitted. As far as the law is concerned, I have a right to carry there," he added.
Hwang commended the theater-goers for being concerned and alerting the authorities and noted: "I understand that we are in a state of heightened security since the incident at Colorado a couple of months ago. I really feel for the victims and I pray for their family members."
In his statement, Hwang thanked the un-uniformed police for their handling of the situation as well.
"I was cooperative and followed all the directions of the police," he stated. "I think that the second amendment is crucially important to protect. When baseless breach of peace and interfering charges are brought against people that have a right to carry, it really threatens our constitution right to bear arms."
Updated at 3:15 p.m.
Sung H. Hwang, 46 of New Haven will hold a press conference today at 3:30 p.m. regarding his arrest last night at Criterion-Bow Tie Cinemas at 86 Temple St., where he was found with a loaded gun in his waistband.
The law firm Sung-Ho Hwang LLC at 1 Audobon St., New Haven stated that they will hold a press conference regarding the arrest. Hwang was charged with breach of peace and interfering with police. He was released last night on a promise to appear in court.
Following his press conference, the New Haven mayor's office and New Haven Police Department will hold a press conference at 4 p.m. in the steps of City Hall at 165 Church St., New Haven, regarding the incident.
Updated on Aug. 8 at 9:59 a.m.:
A mug shot of the man allegedly carrying an exposed loaded gun, Sung H. Hwang, has been released by New Haven Police.
Hwang, 46, of New Haven, was handcuffed and removed from the theater. Hwang possesses a valid State of CT permit to carry a pistol.
At 10:11 p.m. on August 7th, New Haven Police were called to the Criterion - Bow Tie Cinemas at 86 Temple Street. Theater management reported a man inside had a handgun on him and was inside either theater 1 or 2.
Officers arrived within minutes and were given the suspect's description. The usher told them at least three patrons had said the armed man was inside, but it was unclear which theater he was in.
The patrons said that the suspect had a gun in his waistband on his back and it was not concealed. Theater 2 was featuring the film 'The Watch.'
That theater was searched by the first arriving officers. Officers then moved to Theater 1, which had about a dozen patrons inside. The Batman film, 'The Dark Knight Rises' was featured there and had not yet begun to play.
The theater house lights were illuminated as officers entered. Patrons were told to raise their hands and file from the theater. As they exited they were patted down and escorted outside.
Officers identified the suspect and with weapons drawn, ordered the suspect to put his hands up. He allegedly remained in his seat while using his cell phone.
He allegedly did not comply with the ffficers' commands, and was taken into custody by force. Officers allegedly removed a loaded handgun from the suspect's waistband at the small of his back.
The armed man, Sung H. Hwang, age 46 of New Haven, was handcuffed and removed from the theater. Hwang possesses a valid State of CT permit to carry a pistol.
The theater had received no threats prior to this incident.
Hwang was arrested and charged with Breach of Peace and Interfering with Police.
Theatergoers who were viewing the 10:20 p.m. screening of 'The Watch' described Hwang as wearing a v-neck shirt and jeans. "Some guy had a gun showing under his belt. He was walking behind us."
When the man walked past the theatergoers, they saw he had a gun tucked into the back of his pants. They believed he was not on his way into 'The Watch.' "We talked to each other and then we talked to the manager [of the theatre]," said one of the theatergoers.
Attorney Scott McMillan of San Diego left a screening 'Ted' with his family at approximately 12:00 a.m. McMillan was not aware of the alleged armed man, but said he "felt safe" knowing that the alleged armed man had a permit.