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Movie-theater attacker may have planned to set off explosion

August 6, 2015

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) — The disturbed homeless man who attacked a movie theater with a pellet gun, an ax and pepper spray also had a propane tank and lighter fluid and may have been planning to set off an explosion, authorities said Thursday.

Vincente David Montano, 29, was shot to death by a SWAT unit Wednesday during the matinee showing of “Mad Max: Fury Road” at a Nashville-area multiplex.

Police Spokesman Don Aaron said investigators had not established a motive for the attack, but he said Montano had been committed for psychiatric treatment at least four times, twice in 2004 and twice in 2007.

According to police reports, his mother said he had a long history of mental problems, including hearing voices.

“This individual has had significant psychiatric or psychological issues,” Aaron said.

In addition to his weapons, a backpack and a duffel bag, Montano had a canister of propane, lighter fluid and a lighter and may have intended to set off a blast, Aaron said. But he said Montano had made a gash on the canister, rendering it useless.

Police said Montano bought a ticket to the movie and went inside with his weapons. Some of the theatergoers ran out and alerted police.

Montano pointed his pellet gun at an officer and pulled the trigger, prompting the officer to fire one round from his patrol rifle, officials said. Montano also began blasting pepper spray and fired his pellet gun again, and police shot back, police said. Aaron said Montano also hurled multiple objects, including chemical spray cartridges, at the officers.

Montano tried to escape out the back door of the theater, and as he emerged and started toward officers with ax in one hand and his other hand concealed by the duffel bag, five of them opened fire, police said. Montano was struck and killed.

One man was cut on the shoulder, evidently by the ax Montano carried, but was not seriously hurt. That man, his wife and their daughter were treated for exposure to pepper spray, Aaron said.

Murfreesboro, Tennessee, police reports from 2004 show Montano’s long history of mental problems, with his mother telling officers in one case that he heard voices telling him to do things.

Two days before the theater attack, Pruett contacted Murfreesboro police and said Montano was missing. She told police that her son was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 2006, according to the missing person report.

Pruett told police she hadn’t seen her son since March 2013.

Attempts to reach Pruett through telephone numbers listed for her and other messages were unsuccessful. Police said she had come to Murfreesboro to stay with a relative.

Nashville police also said Montano had been arrested in Murfreesboro in 2004 for assault and resisting arrest.

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Associated Press writers Kristin M. Hall in Nashville and Claire Galofaro in Louisville, Kentucky, contributed to this report.

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