'Persons of interest' ID'd in leaf-blower theater prank

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (AP/CNS) - Four suspects who police believe may have used a leaf blower to terrorize a weekend audience of theatergoers watching the movie "The Gift" in Newport Beach were identified and interviewed Wednesday night.

The suspects have been cooperative, Jennifer Manzella of the Newport Beach Police Department said.

The suspects got into the Edwards Big Newport 6 theater through an emergency exit on Saturday night and held the leaf blower aloft while revving its motor, Manzella said.

Some patrons scrambled for the doors, causing three people to sustain minor injuries, Manzella said. One of the injured went to Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian to be examined.

Police were dispatched to the Edwards Big Newport 6 movie theater in the 300 block of Newport Center Drive a little after 10:50 p.m Saturday, she said.

The photos describe the two suspects as two males 15 to 20 years old, with both wearing a white T-shirt and dark shorts. A third suspect, also a male 15 to 20 years old, wearing a dark T-shirt, dark shorts wearing a baseball cap with a Bass Pro Shops logo.

The fourth suspect, a female 15 to 20 years old, was seen wearing a dark long sleeve shirt and dark shorts.

They have been connected to a silver, full size Ford pickup truck with four doors.

Police said that whether or not the scare was meant as a prank, it was no joking matter given a recent series of violent episodes in movie theaters nationally.

"The fear that was incited in moviegoers was very much influenced by what's going on in the rest of the country," Manzella said.

Investigators, who do not believe it was any sort of publicity stunt, believe at least one suspect paid to get into the theater and opened the emergency door for the leaf-blower-wielding suspect, Manzella said.

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