In a scene that is becoming all too familiar in our gun-obsessed nation, a gunman stood at the front of a Denver, Colorado area movie theater during the midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises, released a canister of gas, and then opened fire with an automatic weapon, ultimately killing at least
14 12 people and wounding up to 50 38.
It was almost as if the man, who possibly was dressed like Bane, the villain in the movie, was acting out a scene from The Dark Knight Rises—in fact, many people thought it was a scene from the movie when they began hearing gunshots.
Aurora, just outside of Denver, is just a few miles from Columbine High School, the scene in 1999 of one of the deadliest shootings in American history. But the infamous Columbine killings, where 13 students and teachers died and 23 were injured, has been surpassed by this horrific scene in Aurora.
The suspect, 24, who has yet to be identified, was apprehended behind the theater by police near a car inside of which police also found a gas mask, rifle, handgun and at least one additional weapon, indicating the man might have had plans to cause additional mayhem.
“Witnesses tell us he released some sort of canister. They heard a hissing sound and some gas emerged and the gunman opened fire,” Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said at a news conference.
Police, ambulances and emergency crews swarmed on the scene after frantic calls started flooding the 911 switchboard, officials said.
The suspect was taken into custody, but no name was released. Oates said there’s no evidence of any other attackers. There was also no immediate word of any motive.
The suspect spoke of “possible explosives in his residence. We are dealing with that potential threat,” Oates said, without providing details on where that was.
He said police also checked for explosives in the parking lot and at the Century 16 theater and secured those areas.
Hayden Miller, who was inside Theater 16, told KUSA-TV that he heard several shots, “like little explosions going on and shortly after that we heard people screaming,” he said.
Hayden said at first he thought it was part of a louder movie next door. But then he saw “people hunched over leaving theater.”
The police chief said 10 victims died at the theater and four at area hospitals.
One witness said that the gunman reloaded and turned and shot people who were crowded around the doorway trying to get out. He started in the corner of the screen, then worked his way up the side stairs opening fire on the crowd.
Two people in critical condition were rushed to nearby Swedish Medical Center, spokeswoman Nicole Williams said.
She said emergency crews told her staff to prepare for several more patients from the shooting scene.
The youngest victim reported was a 6-year-old being treated at Children’s Hospital Colorado, where a total of six victims were taken. Their condition wasn’t known. Updated to youngest at 3-months old.
Reports indicated that some people didn’t even wait for ambulances, carting injured to the hospitals themselves, where they walked in on their own.
President Obama, who was traveling in Florida, was notified of the shooting at 5:26 a.m.. The White House released the following statement from the president regarding the Batman Shooting:
“Michelle and I are shocked and saddened by the horrific and tragic shooting in Colorado. Federal and local law enforcement are still responding and my administration will do everything that we can to support the people of Aurora in this extraordinarily difficult time. We are committed to bringing whoever was responsible to justice, insuring the safety of our people and caring for those who have been wounded. As we do when confronted by moments of darkness and challenge, we must now come together as one American family. All of us must have the people of Aurora in our thoughts and prayers as they confront the loss of friends, family and neighbors and we must stand together with them in the challenging hours and days to come.”
Updates: The suspect has been identified as 24-year old James Holmes. His mother Arlene told ABC News, “You have the right person.” The number of patrons killed have been reduced to 12 while the number of wounded is down to 38 from 50. More updates coming soon.
Colorado shooting video: