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Published: Saturday, 12/27/2008

Moviegoer charged with shooting man whose family was talking during the film


PHILADELPHIA A South Philadelphia man enraged because a family was talking during a Christmas showing of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button decided to deal with the situation by shooting the father, police said.

James Joseph Cialella, Jr., 29, is charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault, and weapons violations.

His alleged victim, whom police did not identify, was shot in the left arm. He was treated at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.

It s truly frightening when you see something like this evolve into such violence, said police spokesman Lt. Frank Vanore.

That something like this leads to a shooting in a movie theater.

Police were called to the United Artists Theatre Riverview Plaza about 9:30 p.m., less than an hour into the filmed adaptation of an F. Scott Fitzgerald short story that stars Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett.

As the story of a man s aging backward unfolded on the screen, drama among the spectators erupted when Mr. Cialella grew angry that a family sitting in front of him was talking too loudly, Lieutenant Vanore said.

Mr. Cialella told the family to be quiet and threw popcorn at a boy who had been talking to his father. The father, 31, exchanged words with Mr. Cialella, who got out of his seat and came around the aisle to confront the family, Lieutenant Vanore said.

The father stood, shielding his family, Lieutenant Vanore said. The argument turned physical. Mr. Cialella then allegedly pulled a black handgun and shot the father, sending others in the crowded theater running for safety, according to police.

Lieutenant Vanore said Cialella then returned to his seat and continued watching the movie.

The victim and witnesses were able to identify the gunman, who was confronted in the theater by police. Lieutenant Vanore said officers found a Kel-Tec .380-caliber handgun on Mr. Cialella, who was taken into custody and charged.

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