Gunfire killed a Chicago girl and paralyzed a Pennsylvania youth from the neck down in the most serious of several outbreaks of shooting and violence Friday night that may have been associated with the opening of the film "Juice," according to police and news accounts.
The movie, a story of four young friends struggling to grow up in Harlem, opened in 1,000 theaters nationwide. Many of the theaters had increased security to guard against repetition of the violence and shooting that marred the openings last year of "New Jack City" and "Boyz N the Hood," films that appealed to the same youthful, mostly black audiences expected at "Juice."
Despite the precautions, outbreaks of gunfire, knifings and fights were reported in Boston, New York, Anchorage, Omaha, Lansing, Mich., and North Little Rock, Ark.
In the Washington area, where the film is playing in 21 theaters, police reported no incidents.
There was no indication that any of the disturbances were directly related to the content or message of the movie, and some may have been coincidental, police said.
In Chicago, a 16-year-old girl was shot to death outside a theater where "Juice" was showing. But police detective Roland Paulnitsky told the Associated Press that the shooting was sparked by "a street altercation" between rival gangs and was "not a result of that movie." A 14-year-old boy was charged with murder in the death of Tydsa Cherry, police said.
In Cheltenham, Pa., a suburb of Philadelphia, Marcus Harrington, 18, was paralyzed by a bullet in the neck outside a theater in a shopping mall where the film was playing.
"The film was showing and the shooting was in the parking lot. That's all we know," a spokesman for the Cheltenham Township police department said. He said no arrests have been made.
In East Lansing, a 17-year-old was shot in the leg during a brawl in the lobby of the Lansing Mall cinema. He was hospitalized, but his wound was not serious, police there told reporters.
But East Lansing police said there was apparently the potential for a much more serious incident, because at least nine shots were fired, bullets struck the ticket window and three guns were recovered.
In Boston, police arrested a robbery suspect in a theater, and gunfire broke out when friends of the arrested man entered the theater and fired shots into the ceiling. In Omaha, a man was arrested for disorderly conduct after he allegedly pulled a gun in a theater lobby. In New York, one 16-year-old reportedly stabbed another when a fight broke out in a Manhattan theater where "Juice" was being shown. In Anchorage, theater managers stopped the film when a fight broke out.
None of the incidents approached the seriousness of the riot and looting that paralyzed the Westwood section of Los Angeles last March, when hundreds of disappointed moviegoers went on a rampage after being turned away from a sold-out showing of "New Jack City."
Partly in response to that incident, Paramount Pictures, distributors of "Juice," made extra prints available to movie theaters, so they could put the film on an additional screen if necessary.
Paramount also offered to pay for additional security measures at theaters showing the film, but declined to say how many theaters accepted the offer.