James Mapes, 48, of Northglenn was taken into custody Sunday after patrons reported he was carrying a handgun strapped to his waist. He was released after being cited and given a summons.
Mapes told the Denver Post he has a concealed weapons permit issued by the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office in 2003. He said he has lived in the area for nine years and gone to movies at the Cinebarre theater dozens of times carrying a pistol openly and concealed.
"I was a threat to no one, I didn't threaten anybody," Mapes said.
Mapes was issued a citation for displaying a weapon and alarming another person after about 40 people were evacuated, Thornton police spokesman Matt Barnes said Monday.
"We had people fleeing the theatres, with people yelling there was a man with a gun," Barnes said.
Theaters across the country have been jittery after 12 people were killed and 58 others were wounded or injured at an Aurora movie theater on July 20 during a showing of the Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises."
Colorado prosecutors filed formal charges Monday against James Holmes, a former neuroscience student accused in the theater attack.
Prosecutors were reviewing the case involving Mapes and the charges might be dropped if they determine he was complying with Colorado's concealed carry law that allows people who pass background checks and get training to carry guns in most circumstances, Barnes said.
Mapes told the newspaper he was in a darkened theater for about 15 minutes viewing "The Watch," when the lights came on and the show stopped. He said a woman sitting nearby took a cellphone call then said aloud that someone in the movie complex was seen carrying a gun.