Arrest, evacuation after weapons scare at Howell movie theater
HOWELL — An employee was arrested after an inert grenade, two handguns and a tactical vest were recovered from his vehicle at a Monmouth County movie theater on Friday night.
About 500 customers were cleared from the Xscape Theater on Route 9 in Howell while the State Police bomb squad determined the the safety of the area and searched a 2008 Kia Rio belonging to Jacob Cavanaugh, 24, of Manchester. He was arrested after a search of his vehicle also turned up a safe and a gun with hollow-point bullets. The other weapon was not loaded, according to police.
Officer Stephanie Regina, a uniformed cop working a weekend security shift, was alerted by a manager who said Cavanaugh earlier in the week had shown the guns to an employee. Police discovered that Cavanaugh had a warrant for his arrest for failing to show up in Millville Municipal Court on a drug paraphernalia charge and driving without on a suspended license in Hazlet.
Officers, including off-duty Howell Police Detective David Gilliland, who had been watching a movie, began the evacuation after finding a hand grenade in the vehicle.
A search of the theater turned up no other devices or suspicious items and the grenade was found to have its explosive removed.
"At this time we do not believe Cavanaugh had any intentions to harm anyone. He made unsubstantiated claims he was involved in law enforcement. He was cooperative throughout the investigation," police said in a statement.
Cavanaugh is being held at the Monmouth County jail on two counts of unlawful possession of a handgun and possession of hollow-point ammunition.
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