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New Haven Lawyer Arrested After Bringing Loaded Gun Into Dark Knight Screening

46-year-old Sung H. Hwang maintains he had a right to bring a loaded gun into a movie theater. No one was injured during the incident.

Sung H. Hwang's lawyer Hugh Keefe told the Associated Press today that his client's arrest last night at Criterion-Bow Tie Cinemas at 86 Temple St., New Haven, where he was found with a loaded gun in his waistband, was "baseless." Hwang is a well-known lawyer in New Haven and heads the Law Offices of Sung-Ho Hwang LLC at 1 Audobon St., New Haven. He is also an officer with the New Haven Bar Association.

Hwang was charged with breach of peace and interfering with police. He was released last night on a promise to appear in court.

Keefe told the AP that his client had a right to carry his gun into the movie theater – 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 (you can read it in its entirety in the comments), 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. 

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On Aug. 7, 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."

joseph thompson August 09, 2012 at 12:28 AM
why were the comments removed
Jenn McCulloch August 09, 2012 at 12:48 PM
My apologies--here is the statement from Sung-Ho Hwang: "I would like to take this opportunity the to explain what had happened. I have had a valid state carry permit for many years. I normally do not carry, but I live in downtown new haven and the movie was getting out at 1am, so I felt that I should protect myself since I was alone. I have a special conceal holster that goes under my pants and the shirt covers the holster. There is no posting at Criterion at [SIC] states that weapons are not permitted. As far as the law is concerned, I have a right to carry there. 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. I don’t think that the patrons did any thing wrong. If they did suspect that someone had a weapon I would expect them to call the police. If I were in their situation I would have done the same thing. I would also like to thank the uniformed police who acted very well under a tough situation. They were very professional and understanding once they discovered that I had a valid state carry permit. I was cooperative and followed all the directions of the police. 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."
Jenn McCulloch August 09, 2012 at 12:49 PM
Statement continued: "We should focus on the real issue at hand. Why is New Haven so unsafe? Why do law abiding citizens feel that they need to carry a weapon? Why does New Haven have a crime index of 2, which means that 98 percent of other cities are safer? Why is New Haven considered the murder capital of Connecticut? Those are the real issues here."

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