NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) –Police described the scene inside the theater where a suspect armed with an ax and airsoft pistol that looked like a real gun was killed by Metro-Nashville police Wednesday afternoon.
Police said 29-year-old Vicente Montano, armed with an ax and a pistol and carrying two duffle/backpack type bags,began attacking a family who were in an auditorium to watch the film “Mad Max: Fury Road.”
The father received a laceration to his shoulder from the ax and his wife and daughter were doused in the face with pepper spray.
Witnesses at the theater ran to nearby police officers who were working a crash on Bell Road. Those officers immediately headed to the theater as they radioed the information to dispatch at 1:13 p.m.
South Precinct Officer Jonathan Frith, a six-year veteran of the force, was the first officer to encounter Montano as he entered the auditorium.
Police reported Montano pointed his pistol at Frith and pulled the trigger, prompting Frith to fire one round from his patrol rifle in self-defense.
Frith then backed out of the theater and worked to keep Montano contained inside as SWAT officers responded.
Montano is suspected of then filling the theater with chemical spray.
Officers reported encountering a cloud as they entered the theater in an effort to bring Montano into custody.
Montano engaged SWAT officers inside the theater for several minutes, pulling the trigger of what turned out to be an airsoft pistol that closely resembled a semi-automatic pistol.
As Montano’s gun popped, sounding like a small caliber pistol, four SWAT members fired at him before he attempted to flee out the rear door of the theater.
He emerged out the rear door with the ax in his hands and started toward awaiting officers, five of them opened fire, killing him 41 minutes after the attack began.
SWAT officers who fired on Montano in the theater are identified as:
- Special Response Team/SWAT Sgt. Jason Duncan, an 18-year police department veteran
- East Precinct/SWAT Lt. Jeff Sanders, a 20-year police department veteran
- Special Response Team/SWAT Officer Jonathan Frost, a 9-year police department veteran
- SWAT Officer Brian Gregory, a 13-year police department veteran
Officers who had taken up position at the rear of the theater and fired on Montano as he emerged with ax in hand are identified as:
- South Precinct Officer Steven Carrick, a 2-year police department veteran
- North Precinct Officer Justin Fox, a 16-year police department veteran
- South Precinct undercover detective Lee Davis, a 4-year police department veteran
- South Precinct undercover detective Kevin Choklad, a 3-year police department veteran
- North Precinct Officer Michael Parman, an 8-year police department veteran
The officers who fired their weapons are on routine administrative assignment pending completion of the preliminary investigation.
Montano’s backpack was detonated by the bomb squad just before 4 p.m. as authorities were not comfortable opening it. The suspect also had a smaller satchel with him, which contained nothing harmful.
Montano is believed to have been homeless and the police are still researching his background. He has no arrest history in Nashville but was charged with assault and resisting arrest in Murfreesboro 11 years ago.
Montano had mental health issues and was committed to an institution at least three times while residing in Murfreesboro, according to police. He is reported to have lived in a number of states over the years, including Missouri, Texas, Alabama, Illinois and Florida.
Montano was carrying a Tennessee identification card that was issued on June 15, 2015, which listed an address of 1716 Rosa L. Parks Blvd.
Montano’s identification was confirmed through his fingerprints, which were compared to those taken during a 2004 arrest in Murfreesboro.