The Central District’s Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute was locked down Sunday afternoon and its scheduled performance was canceled after a threat also shuttered downtown’s 5th Avenue Theater.
Officials have not specified the nature of the threat and the Seattle Police Department has not yet said anything publicly about what lead to the closures. An official at Langston Hughes announced to people inside the facility that it was not an emergency situation but they needed to leave the E Yesler building due to a threat involving a union at the Seattle theaters.
UPDATE 4:00 PM: A representative for the local chapter of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees tells CHS that the union was made aware of a possible threat against theaters made by a member and alerted police and management at involved venues.
“Today, December 2nd, Local 15 received a threat against the Local from a suspended permit worker, which included a threat of a mass shooting,” a statement from Sal Ponce, president of IATSE Local No. 15, said in a statement sent to CHS. “Local 15 informed Seattle Police Department and our employers about this threat. Some theatres have taken the precaution of canceling performances for the safety of patrons and staff.”
UPDATE 4:30 PM: SPD has posted a brief on the situation saying they are working to locate the person responsible for the threats:
Seattle Police will have extra uniformed officers at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre this evening, while detectives investigate threatening remarks posted on Facebook earlier today. Shortly after 1:00 p.m., 5th Avenue Theatre managers called 911 to report the presence of threatening language posted on a former employee’s social media account. Theater staff advised police that the threats created an environment of fear and theater management made the decision to cancel the 1:30 p.m. matinee showing. Theater guests were immediately informed of the cancellation. The decision to cancel the performance was made by theater management without any input from the Seattle Police Department. Seattle Police officers will remain on site for the evening performance. Detectives are investigating and attempting to locate the suspect responsible for making the threats. This remains an active and on-going investigation.
UPDATE 5:07: SPD reports the suspect is in custody after being arrested in Shoreline.
The 5th Avenue 1:30 PM matinee of Annie was canceled due to the threat. At Langston Hughes, a Seattle dance studio’s youth production of the Nutcracker was stopped just before curtain when the building was cleared.
“After working with officers at SPD, The 5th feels confident in proceeding with the evening performance of Annie as scheduled,” a statement from the theater reads.
The Seattle Times reported details from 5th Avenue about that theater’s decision to close:
The theater received a “credible security threat” at around noon, and shortly after decided to cancel the 1:30 p.m. matinee and contact police, managing director Bernadine Griffin said by phone. The person making the threat was familiar to the theater, she said, declining to provide more information on the nature of the threat.
CHS was at Langston Hughes to attend the canceled performance.
Other, larger venues had not announced cancellations as of 3 PM Sunday. The 5th Avenue said it hoped to be open for its scheduled evening performance.
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