A gunman or gunmen dressed in riot gear burst into a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado at a midnight showing of the Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises” and opened fire, killing at least 14 to 15 people and injuring at least 50. The suspect identified as James Holmes, was caught by police in the parking lot of the Century 16 Movie Theaters, nine miles outside Denver, after police began receiving dozens of 9 1 1 calls at 12:39 a.m.. Police said the man appeared to have acted alone. Other reports are saying there was 2 gunmen.
Witnesses in the movie theater said the Gunman crashed into the auditorium through an emergency exit about 30 minutes into the film, set off a smoke bomb, and began shooting. The Gunman stalked the aisles of the theater, shooting at random, as panicked movie-watchers in the packed auditorium tried to escape, witnesses said. “The suspect throws tear gas in the air, and as the tear gas appears he started shooting,” said Lamar Lane, who was watching the midnight showing of the movie with his brother. “It was very hard to breathe. I told my brother to take cover. It took awhile. I started seeing flashes and screaming, I just saw blood and people yelling and a quick glimpse of the guy who had a gas mask on. I was pushed out. There was chaos, we started running.”
Police said 10 victims died inside the theater, while dozens of others were taken to local hospitals, including a child as young as 6 years old.
The Gunman was wearing a body armor and riot helmet and carrying a gas mask, rifle, and handgun, when he was apprehended, according to police. The Gunman mentioned having explosives stored, leading police to evacuate his entire North Aurora apartment complex and search the buildings early this morning. Witnesses watching movies in theaters next to the one where the shooting took place said bullets tore through the theater walls and they heard screaming. One witness said she saw people dropping to the ground after the gunshots began. “We were maybe 20 or 30 minutes into the movie and all you hear, first you smell smoke, everybody thought it was fireworks or something like that, and then you just see people dropping and the gunshots are constant,” witness Christ Jones told ABC’s Denver affiliate KMGH. “I heard at least 20 to 30 rounds within that minute or two.”
A man who talked to a couple who was inside the theater told ABC News, “They got up and they started to run through the emergency exit, and that when she turned around, she said all she saw was the guy slowly making his way up the stairs and just firing at people, just picking random people,” he said. “The gunshot continued to go on and on and then after we didn’t hear anything,” the couple told the man, “we finally got up and there was people bleeding, there was people obviously may have been actually dead or anything, and we just ran up out of there, there was chaos everywhere.” Witnesses and victims were taken to Gateway High School for questioning. An explosive device was also found inside the movie house. Police are not sure whether the device, which investigators are calling a bomb, was already in place or whether it was thrown into the crowd. Ambulances rushed to the scene as audience members fled the theater.Investigators are now interviewing friends and associates of the suspect to get a sense of the gunman’s background.