Off-duty officer leaves gun in Winter Park movie theater bathroom

Deputy who left gun in theater is undercover, officials say

By Jennifer Ortega - Reporter

WINTER PARK, Fla. - There's a policy in place to check all bags and purse for guns at Winter Park Regal at the Village movie theater, but somehow a loaded gun ended up in the men's bathroom Sunday night.

"Why would a police officer have his gun sitting around?" asked Sammie Vittoria.

That's what a lot of moviegoers are asking after an off-duty Osceola sheriff's deputy brought a gun to the theater, leaving the gun in a restroom stall.

"It's careless, obviously," Shawn Hardy said. "I'm hoping he feels just as bad leaving the gun there, and I'm sure he's embarrassed that he left it there."

It was a customer that found the gun and reported it to a theater employee. The police report filed Sunday night says the firearm was found in the men's handicap stall with the hand grip up, resting on top if the tissue dispenser. When the employee checked it, he found five bullets inside.

"It's a little crazy. The officer shouldn't bring a gun into a movie theater if he's not on duty," Theron Marcello said.

"That's kind of unsafe. They should definitely keep track of it better, but I mean, everybody loses something every once in a while," Jennifer Sprinkle said.

A sign posted outside the theater outlines the do's and don'ts. At the bottom, a clear notice prohibiting any firearms or concealed weapons on theater property can be seen.

News 6 reached out to the Osceola County Sheriff's Office.

"They are aware of the incident and are investigating to see if there were any violations made by the officer," the Osceola County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.

People News 6 talked to said this isn't going to change their minds about going to see a movie.

"I'm going to go to the movies and not think somebody is going to have a gun," Hardy said. "I'm not going to go with that mind set, because if that was the mind set going into it then no one would go to the movies."

"It's a bonehead move for somebody smart, unfortunately," Marcello said. "It doesn't reflect on everybody."

The Sheriff's Office told News 6 the deputy is undercover, so they're not releasing his name. However, officials said it was his personal weapon, which is now back in his custody.

News 6 reached out to Regal Theater Corporate Office to ask them about protocol on the incident but have not heard back.

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