OAKDALE, Minn. — Oakdale police said a man shot inside Marcus Oakdale Cinema Tuesday night is recovering after surgery and expected to survive.
Squads were dispatched shortly after 10 p.m. to the theater, located at 5677 Hadley Ave. N. on reports of a shooting. Police said when officers arrived they found a 23-year-old man from Hugo inside the theater suffering from apparent gunshot wounds.
Witnesses told officers on the shooting scene that the suspect fled the theater on foot. Police said that person is still at large, adding that they don't believe the shooting was random.
First responders transported the victim to Regions Hospital where surgery was performed. On Wednesday police released an update saying the man was recovering and expected to survive.
The Oakdale Police Department is leading the investigation into the shooting, with help from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) and surrounding agencies.
Marcus Theaters released a statement following the shooting, writing in part, "This matter has been turned over to police and we are cooperating fully with their investigation. The theatre will remain closed during the investigation, and we will provide an update on our website about reopening as soon as we can."
Witnesses on the scene told KARE 11 shortly after the incident that there was a shooting inside the theater, with one man saying he heard screaming and someone yelling, "Get out, get out now."
Mauricio Nava was inside viewing a movie with church friends when he said he was told by law enforcement to evacuate the building. Nava described the scene as confusing and chaotic, adding that there was speculation about what was happening.
"We didn't know if it was a shooting or a bomb threat or just a joke," Nava said. "But with all these police officers, we thought something must be going on."
Randy Ferris is an instructor from Stock and Barrel Gun Club in Eagan, which offers classes on surviving an active shooting and what to do when you hear gunfire. He says when shots are fired in places like movie theaters, people often go into denial, they freeze or panic.
"The mindset needs to change from 'this will never happen to me' to 'I've always known this could happen and here's what I'm prepared to do about it,'" Ferris said.
Just like on an airplane, he says to locate the nearest exits upon arrival and if shots are fired, your first move should be to run. It's a message shared by the FBI: run, hide, fight.
"One of the things is for the employees to have some awareness training so that they are able to identify people whose behavior is out of context," Ferris said.
This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.
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