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Ohio man pleads guilty to bringing weapons to Batman movie

By Kim Palmer

CLEVELAND (Reuters) - An Ohio man pleaded guilty to weapons charges on Monday for bringing a loaded, 9mm semiautomatic handgun and knives into a movie theater showing the Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises".

Scott A. Smith, 38, pleaded guilty to two counts of carrying a concealed weapon in connection with his arrest on August 4 at a movie theater in a Cleveland suburb, one of a series of incidents at theaters that followed last summer's mass shooting at a Colorado theater.

The Colorado theater rampage during a screening of the Batman movie in July, which left 12 people dead and five dozen wounded, along with the slayings of 20 students and six adults at a Connecticut elementary school in December have sparked a national debate over gun violence.

Smith was arrested after an off-duty officer asked to see the contents of a military style bag he was carrying as he tried to enter the theater. The Maxpedition bag he had with him is commonly used to transport firearms.

The bag held a loaded Glock 9mm semiautomatic pistol, two extra loaded ammunition clips, four knives and medical supplies. Smith told authorities he brought the gun for his protection and for the protection of innocent people, police said.

At the time of his arrest, police said Smith had taken up what they called a tactical position in the middle of the back row of the theater about 30 minutes before start of the movie.

A search of Smith's home after his arrest turned up a cache of handguns, rifles and shotguns, as well as thousands of rounds of ammunition and knives.

Smith faces up to 18 months in prison on the weapons charges. He is scheduled to stand trial Wednesday in Cuyahoga County court on a third charge, having weapons under disability, a felony that calls for up to five years in prison.

Prosecutors contend Smith is dependent on drugs, making it illegal for him to possess firearms.

(Editing by David Bailey and Leslie Gevirtz)

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