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Violence Reported at U.S. Theaters Showing Drug-Gang Movie

March 11, 1991

NEW YORK (AP) _ Violence at theaters showing the film ″New Jack City″ has left one moviegoer dead, several people injured and more than a dozen arrested in cities from coast to coast.

Shootings, fights and a riot broke out after the film, based on the real- life New York drug lord Nickie Barnes, opened Friday.

The film’s director and co-star, Mario Van Peebles, said the movie is not ″a heavy gang movie″ and should not be blamed.

″It’s the type of movie that will draw the gangs to it,″ said Las Vegas police Sgt. William Reed.

A fight broke out Friday night in a Las Vegas theater showing the film, and police arrested 15 people.

In New York, an 18-year-old man was arrested Saturday for investigation of murder in the death of Gabriel Williams, 19, who was struck in the chest by a bullet during a shootout Friday night in front of a theater showing the movie.

More than 100 shots were fired, some from an automatic weapon, when two men who got into an argument inside the theater took their fight outside, police said. Arrested after the Friday shooting was Shawn Curry, Detective Dennis Singleton said.

In Los Angeles, an estimated 1,500 people rioted Friday night when a theater oversold tickets to the film and began turning people away. Stores in the Westwood theater and shopping district were looted during the 2 1/2 -hour melee and nine people were arrested.

In Sayreville, N.J., three police officers and a civilian were hurt Friday night when a fight between two people in the lobby of a theater touched off other fights.

The Warner Bros. movie, starring Wesley Snipes as a flashy Harlem crack dealer named Nino Brown, earned $2 million on its debut night, according to Van Peebles. It was showing in about 800 theaters across the country.

A tape recording at the Los Angeles theater where the riot broke out said showings of ″New Jack City″ had been canceled there. A call to the Las Vegas theater was not immediately returned. A recorded announcement at the New York theater said it was closed until further notice because of ″technical difficulties.″

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