GREENSBORO, N.C. - A 32-year-old man was shot twice in the abdomen during an argument and an estimated 700 people were evacuated when gunfire broke out at a Greensboro movie theater Friday night.
The sound of a gunshot echoed throughout the lobby of the Grand 18 at Four Seasons Station just after 9 p.m. as moviegoers waited to get into opening night showings of "Notorious" - the life and death story of the rapper Notorious B.I.G.
Greensboro police Lt. James Hinson said the victim, identified early Saturday morning as Clive O’Connor, was rushed to Moses Cone Hospital, where he underwent surgery. His medical condition was not immediately available.
No suspects were in custody late Friday night.
"We can't say whether or not this shooting is in direct relationship to the movie 'Notorious' B.I.G. We just can't say," Hinson said. The theater had three showings of the film scheduled for 9:30 p.m.
Rapper and actor Jamal "Gravy" Woolard, who plays B.I.G. in the film, was in the theater at the time of the shooting, police and witnesses said.
Details regarding the visit, including whether there was additional security or if it had any role in the shooting were not immediately available.
Notorious B.I.G., whose real name was Christopher Wallace, died in 1997 in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles. His death remains unsolved.
The movie theater and parking lot at 2700 Vanstory St. were evacuated after dozens of police swarmed to the scene.
"We were just standing there talking and we heard a 'Pow!'" said Jasmine Seapoe, who was with a group of friends waiting to get into a 9:30 p.m. showing of "Notorious."
"The next thing we know there were a bunch of people running in the opposite direction, and the cops came and asked us if we saw anything and started directing everyone to get out," she said.
Janell Pruitt, a friend of Seapoe's, said the crowd's reaction to the gunshot was delayed because a woman was coming through the hallway with a balloon bouquet.
"Everybody thought it was the balloons popping,'' Pruitt said, "but it was a gunshot because a balloon couldn't be that loud."
Once everyone realized what was going on, Pruitt said, a stampede of people starting running toward the exits. Some people, including one of Pruitt's and Seapoe's friends, received minor injuries.
The theater and parking lot were cleared by about 10 p.m. as crime scene investigators made their way inside the theater to collect evidence.
The Grand 18 will honor tickets today for customers whose movies were interrupted by the shooting Friday, said Lisa Burwell, a spokeswoman for Southern Theaters, the parent company of the Grand 18.
However, all showings of "Notorious" will be suspended indefinitely at the Grand 18, Burwell said. Customers with tickets to Friday's showing of "Notorious" should contact the theater for details regarding a refund.