Guard confronts teen with gun

By Ed Brock

An off-duty police officer working as a security guard at a movie theater found himself in a brief standoff with a 13-year-old boy with a gun.

"He pointed it at me and then threw it at me," said Zebulon Police Officer Ashley Gilham.

Gilham said he was responding to a fight in the courtyard of the AMC Southlake Pavilion Movie Theater on Mt. Zion Road in Morrow around 11:25 p.m. Sunday when he saw one teenager passing the gun to the 13-year-old. The teen apparently planned to use the gun on somebody else involved in the fight.

When Gilham came up behind the teen and ordered him to drop the gun, the 13-year-old spun and pointed the gun at Gilham. It was a move that could have cost the boy his life.

"The only thing that kept him from getting shot was that (Clayton County Police Officer Tevis Harris) was behind him so I didn't have a clear shot," Gilham said.

Harris was also working off duty at the theater.

On the second order to drop the gun the teen, who was not identified because of his age, threw the gun at Gilham and ran away. He was arrested after a short chase and has been charged with aggravated assault, pointing a pistol and possession of a weapon in a public place, Clayton County Police Capt. Jeff Turner said.

Turner said the 15-year-old boy who handed the gun to the 13-year-old was charged with possession of a weapon, obstruction of an officer and disorderly conduct.

The incident represents an ongoing problem with teens hanging around the theater, Gilham and Turner said.

"We have fights every weekend," said Gilham who has worked at the theater for two years. "This is the first time it came to this point."

Turner said parents need to be aware of what's going on at the theater and should make sure their children do not stay at the theater long.

"We're going to start charging more people with loitering and curfew violations," Turner said.

After midnight teens 16 years old and under must be accompanied by an adult.

AMC Theaters spokesman Rick King said the theater keeps off duty officers on site to discourage loitering.

"The facts show that our officers responded quickly and effectively," King said.

King said the company takes other measures to prevent security problems but he would not give details.

Gilham previously worked for the Jonesboro Police Department.