crimesider

Tom Billodeaux, armed suspect in Calif. movie theater, shot and wounded by police

Police investigate a shooting at the Reading Cinemas in San Diego on Saturday evening, Jan. 12, 2013. Police shot and critically wounded a man suspected of chasing his girlfriend with a handgun after they found him hiding inside the movie theater. It was the second shooting at a San Diego County movie theater in as many days. (AP Photo/UT San Diego, Earnie Grafton) Earnie Grafton

Police investigate a shooting at the Reading Cinemas in San Diego on Jan. 12, 2013
AP Photo/UT San Diego, Earnie Grafton

(CBS/AP) SAN DIEGO - Police shot and wounded a California man accused of domestic violence after he pointed a gun at police officers during a Saturday matinee screening of "Les Miserables."

Tom Billodeaux, 20, was confronted by two officers at Reading Cinemas Carmel Mountain in northern San Diego after the officers went theater-to-theater to find a suspect of an earlier domestic abuse incident.

Billodeaux at first obeyed the officer who approached him and put his empty hands up, but then "lowered them into his lap ... raised a handgun, and turned it toward the officer," police said in a statement.

Police said the officer, who was with the department for about 18 months, shot Billodeaux in the chest and arm. Approximately 15 moviegoers in the theater ducked for cover as police stormed in, most of whom quickly hit the floor and started inching toward exits, police and witnesses said. 

No one else, including the domestic violence victim in the initial incident, was hurt, police Lt. Ernie Herbert said.

Billodeaux was at a hospital Sunday morning and is expected to survive the shooting. Police said he will be booked into county jail on his release.

Witnesses reported seeing Billodeaux get into a fight with his girlfriend at her workplace across the street from the theater's surrounding shopping plaza, Herbert said. Co-workers and witnesses helped the woman get away safely, but Billodeaux threatened them with a gun and ran to the shopping plaza.

Billodeaux became the target of an intense police search as police shut down the shopping center's parking lot and stopped every car to look for the man, police said. Officers with dogs checked each store, while a police helicopter hovered above.

"There were 20 police cars blocking the entrance, then the fire truck and the ambulance rushed in," said Steve Krongard, an owner of an arcade next to the Cineplex. "Then we saw seven cops with what looked like rifles, then paramedics went into the theater."

Herbert said police then learned that an armed man had ducked into the Cineplex.

Capt. Terry McManus told U-T San Diego that police searched theater by theater and evacuated moviegoers until two officers spotted him in the sparsely attended showing of "Les Miserables."

The officers thought their lives were threatened, he said, "and more importantly, they thought the lives of others were in jeopardy."

McManus said the gunman never made any threats to others in the theater. He said the man had left a suicide note at his Escondido home before going to his girlfriend's workplace to confront her.

  • Crimesider Staff

Comments

Follow Us