Tennessee Theater Attack Suspect Had History of Mental Health Issues, Police Say

PHOTO: The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department released this identification photo of Vincente Montano, 29, who investigators say was killed by officers when he attacked patrons at a movie theater in Nashville on August 5, 2015.PlayMetropolitan Nashville Police Department
WATCH Officer Who Stopped Nashville Movie Theater Attack Recounts What Happened

The man police killed after he attacked patrons inside a movie theater in Tennessee with a hatchet and pepper spray had a history of mental health issues, officials said.

The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department's SWAT team shot Vincente Montano Wednesday afternoon outside the Carmike Hickory 8 Theater in Antioch, a community southeast of Nashville. Seven other people were watching "Mad Max: Fury Road" when Montano unleashed pepper spray inside the theater and cut one man with the hatchet, police said.

"This guy, this shady looking guy, stood up with like two bags and walked towards the back of the theater and he pulled out like a hatchet and started attacking this family," a caller told 911 dispatchers. "Then he pulled out a gun and we all ran out of the theater."

The injured man, who identified himself as Steven but declined to give his last name, was inside the theater with his wife and daughter.

"I am very, very grateful that no one else got injured here today," he said.

An officer fired at Montano, 29, when he pointed the air gun at the officer and pulled the trigger, police said. The officer then left the theater as the SWAT team arrived.

Police believed Montano then filled the theater with pepper spray. SWAT team members engaged with him for several minutes inside the theater before he escaped through a back door, where he encountered more police officers.

PHOTO: Airsoft pistol allegedly possessed by gunman in Antioch, Tenn. movie theater incident on Aug. 5, 2015.Metro Nashville PD
Airsoft pistol allegedly possessed by gunman in Antioch, Tenn. movie theater incident on Aug. 5, 2015.

PHOTO: The Metro Nashville Police Department released this image of an ax carried by the suspect involved with an attack in a Tennessee movie theater. Metro Nashville Police Department
The Metro Nashville Police Department released this image of an ax carried by the suspect involved with an attack in a Tennessee movie theater.

Montano emerged from the theater with the hatchet in hand and started toward the officers, who shot and killed him, police said. Officers later found he was carrying two duffle bags, including one that contained a fake bomb.

Police said Montano was institutionalized at least three times while living in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where he was charged with assault and resisting arrest 11 years ago. Police believed he was homeless and had lived in several states over the years, including Missouri, Texas, Alabama, Illinois, and Florida.

Metropolitan Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson sounded resigned to this being the second attack on a movie theater in three weeks. Last month, two women and the gunman were killed when he opened fire inside a theater in Lafayette, Louisiana.

"This may be what we call the new normal," said Anderson. "We can't just shut down America. We can't say we're not going to theaters. We can't say we're not going to church. We carry on."