Rachel Brown used her lunch hour to stop by the AMC theaters in Largo, Md., to pick up tickets for a late-night showing of "The Dark Knight Rises." Brown said she briefly considered not seeing the movie -- especially not at night.
"But then I thought that's ridiculous," she said. "It's like not going to school after Columbine."
Across the nation, people tried to ignore their fears and their grief as they went to see the most anticipated movie of the year, just as they had planned. Many did so warily, but they did not want a killer halfway in another part of the country to make them cower.
But some went with second thoughts and even guilt. "There was a little bit of apprehension, I guess. 'Is it safe?'" J.C. Santiago, 33, said after a matinee showing of "The Dark Knight Rises" in Alexandria, Va. "And you don't really think about that kind of stuff going to the movies."
Many people who decided to see the movie said there was nothing anyone could do to stop a crazed gunman bent on violence. Benjamin Lowe, 24, a University of Alabama student visiting the area, said: "You never want to hear anything like that, but at the same time, what can be done about that?"
Richard Baldwin, 48, a nurse who brought his 10-year-old son, Jaden, to theater, struggled to understand what the latest mass shooting says about American culture. "It's American culture, blockbuster movies in summer," he said. "You don't expect to get shot."