Michelle Mallari, who was wounded by gunfire last week in a Renton movie theater, said she didn’t realize she had been hit by a bullet until she reached the lobby.
Michelle Mallari and her boyfriend were watching a movie at a Renton theater last week when she heard a “bang” and felt a searing pain in her shoulder.
Mallari said she grabbed Richard Arreola and yelped in pain before the two ran out of the theater. It wasn’t until they reached the lobby that they realized she had been shot.
As blood poured from Mallari’s wound, the two yelled for help, asking the few theater employees they saw to call police and report the shooting. Theater staff were slow to react, Mallari said Friday.
“I was screaming, asking for an ambulance,” she said during a news conference at her Seattle lawyer’s office.
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Mallari and Arreola said two bystanders, including a nurse, sprang into action to help her. As Mallari was being tended to, Arreola said a theater employee shoved free movie passes into his back pocket.
The bullet that struck Mallari came from the handgun owned by a man seated behind her in the theater at Regal Cinemas 14 at the Landing. Dane Gallion, of Newcastle, claims the gun fired accidentally, according to police.
The bullet shattered Mallari’s collarbone. Doctors at Harborview Medical Center decided not to remove the slug for fear doing so would cause additional damage, according to charging documents filed against Gallion.
“I just can’t believe it happened to me,” said Mallari, 40, her right arm in a sling. “It’s overwhelming.”
Renton police say Gallion initially claimed another moviegoer had reached for his crotch and that his gun accidentally fired. But in a later interview with a detective, Gallion said someone sitting next to him was bothering him but he “was not able to expound on what the person was doing to bother him,” according to the charges.
Gallion has been charged with third-degree assault. He was released from the King County Jail on bond last Saturday.
Neither Mallari nor Arreola noticed Gallion in the theater, nor did they see him take off after the Jan. 21 shooting.
“It was all happening too fast; all I know is that I was hurting,” she said.
According to Mallari’s attorney, Karen Koehler, ushers from the theater didn’t appear to have a protocol in place to respond to an emergency situation. She claimed theater employees did not check the other theaters, nor did they immediately evacuate the theater where the shooting occurred.
“I don’t even know that they felt safe in the lobby,” said Koehler.
Koehler also questions the charge filed against Gallion, while acknowledging she had not read the criminal complaint. She believes he should also be facing charges for obstruction and giving false statements to police.
She accused him of lying to police by changing his story repeatedly.
“I think an idiot decided to go to a movie theater, made bozo moves all around,” Koehler said about Gallion.
Koehler said Mallari hired her on Thursday to accompany her on interviews with Renton police. Koehler said she has not filed any legal claims against Gallion or Regal Cinemas on Mallari’s behalf.
Officials from Regal Cinemas did not return a call for comment Friday.
When Renton police arrived at the theater to investigate the shooting, the theater manager reported that a male movie patron had appeared to be intoxicated when he walked into an auditorium. The same man stumbled out of the theater immediately after the shooting and ditched a handgun magazine in a trash can, according to the charges.
About 1½ hours later, Gallion’s father called a King County sheriff’s 911 dispatcher and said he believed his son was the shooter, the charges say. The father said Gallion had come home extremely upset and said his gun had fallen out of his pocket and went off inside the Renton movie theater, say charging papers.
Police picked up Gallion at his house in Newcastle and drove him to the Renton Police Department. One officer could smell intoxicants on Gallion but said he did not appear extremely impaired, according to the charges.
Police say Gallion told them he took his gun to the theater because he feared mass shootings and left after the gun discharged because he was concerned that other moviegoers would think he was a mass-shooting suspect.
Police also say Gallion told officers he took medication for anxiety that morning and had pizza and a 22-ounce beer before going to the theater alone.