Teen Violence In Movie Theater Parking Lot - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

12/30/02

Teen Violence In Movie Theater Parking Lot

A Gulfport teenager faces plastic surgery to repair his broken cheekbone following a weekend assault in the parking lot of a coast movie theater.

An initially friendly encounter between two groups of teenagers, suddenly turned violent.

Fifteen year old Matthew Holliman, his younger brother and a neighborhood friend had been skateboarding together late Saturday night. They were heading to a friend's house, taking a shortcut through the back parking lot of Cinemark Theater when the attack happened.

And it's not the first time there's been such trouble in that same area.

Scotty Holliman and Ben Gurtner are beginners on the skateboard. After some practicing late Saturday, they were headed to Ben's house, cutting through the back parking lot at Cinemark.

It was there a group of teenagers approached the boys.

"They were asking to see the skateboards and if we could do any tricks. So, I let him see mine and he started skating on it," said Gurtner.

 But that parking lot skate boarding suddenly turned ugly.

Scotty Holliman says the other teens demanded money.

"One of them asked, did we have any money. And we said no, we've got gum. and that's when he punched my brother in the face and said he didn't ask for gum, he asked for some money," said the 14 year old Holliman.

Gurtner says it happened quickly.

"Scotty said, told me to run because there was too many. So, I ran and he caught me on the curb when I slipped in some dirt and threw me to the ground. Skinned up my knee. Then him and his friends started punching and kicking me in the head," he recalled.

Fifteen year old Matthew Holliman was seriously hurt. A broken cheekbone will require plastic surgery.

He recounted a similar story about the attack.

"And then they asked if we had money and we said no. Ben said he had some gum, and they said a gun? And he said no, gum. They said we don't want gum, we want money. And he just hit me. And I started running," said Matthew Holliman.

Just one week before this incident, there was a similar crime in the theater's west parking lot. A juvenile was punched in the face and robbed of ten dollars. Gulfport police also responded in that case. Police chief Wayne Payne told WLOX News it's becoming a real concern.

Police spokesman Afred Sexton told us similar problems could occur wherever large groups of young people gather.

"When you sit down and look at it, any time you get together a large amount of juveniles and you put them in a location that are unsupervised, we certainly have concerns," said Sexton.

The young skate boarders don't know what to think of the weekend encounter.

"I think it's pretty messed up they hit somebody for no reason," said Gurtner.

We tried to talk with the general manager of the Gulfport Cinemark theater. He referred us to corporate headquarters.

Terrell Falk told us Cinemark employs off duty police officers as security guards. Those security guards circulate through the building and around the parking lots.

She also said, "We don't know if we'll be adding any additional security at this point. We'll be discussing that at a corporate level. We don't want anything else to happen. My first concern is for the people who were injured."

Police reports were filed on both weekend incidents. So far, there have been no arrests.

By Steve Phillips

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