Online Staff Report
Twelve people were killed and at least 50 people injured at a suburban Denver theater early Friday, July 20, after a 24-year-old Aurora, Colo., man opened fire at the opening of the new Batman movie, The Dark Night Rises.
The suspect, James Holmes, stood at the front of the crowded theater at around 12:30 a.m., Denver time, wearing a gas mask. He then set off an unidentified gas and began firing into the crowd.
Those in the theater reportedly didn’t know what was happening. Some moviegoers thought the attack was part of the show. They then saw the silhouette of a person in the smoke at the front of the theater near the screen, pointing a gun at the crowd.
“I told my friend ‘we’ve got to get out of here,’ but then he shot people trying to go out the exits,” Jennifer Seeger told NBC’s Today.
According to Seeger, the shooter made his way up the aisle, firing as he went, saying nothing.
Aurora police said Holmes offered no resistance when he was arrested at the rear of the theater. He is expected to appear in court Friday, according to CNN.
According to police, Holmes was in possession of a rifle, a handgun and a gas mask when he was arrested. Another gun was found inside his car.
In a news conference, Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said: “Witnesses tell us he released some sort of canister. They heard a hissing sound and some gas emerged, and the gunman opened fire.”
Holmes, an American, appears to have no ties to any terrorist organizations, according to the FBI.
Oates said there was no evidence of any other attackers, and a motive had yet to be determined. Holmes reportedly dropped out of the University of Colorado Medical School last month.
The multiplex theater is inside a mall in Aurora, which is on Denver’s east side and is Colorado’s third-largest city with a population of 327,000.
Oates said Holmes also spoke of “possible explosives in his residence. We are dealing with that potential threat,” he said.
Police were reportedly seen at Holmes’ Denver-area apartment, and had evacuated other residents. Oates did not say whether any explosives had been found.
Oates also said police checked for explosives in the parking lot and at the Century 16 theater and secured those areas.
President Barack Obama said he was saddened by the “horrific and tragic shooting.” He said his administration was “committed to bringing whoever was responsible to justice, ensuring the safety of our people, and caring for those who have been wounded.”
A San Diego woman who identified herself as Holmes’ mother, Arlene, spoke with an ABC News crew Friday morning.
According to the ABC News report, the woman awoke unaware of the news of the shooting, and had yet to be contacted by authorities. However, she reportedly immediately expressed concern that her son “may have been involved.”
“You have the right person,” the woman said. “I need to call the police,” she added. “I need to fly out to Colorado.”
Posted July 20, 2012