At Least 12 Dead, 59 Wounded In Mass Shooting At Colorado Screening Of ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ [UPDATE]

Masked Gunman Opens Fire in a Packed Movie Theater

Really terrible and very scary breaking news to share … a gunman opened fire inside a movie theater in Aurora, CO early this morning at one of the first showings of The Dark Knight Rises. According to reports, a heavily armed 24 year old male — wearing a gas mask and bullet proof vest — stormed a packed movie theater and first released gas canisters (possibly tear gas) and or an explosive device before he indiscriminately fired upon people in the audience with 4 weapons. As it stands now, 14 people are reported killed with 50 more people injured UPDATE: the number of dead has been lowered to 12, number of injured has been raised to 59. CNN is reporting that 10 of the dead were killed on the scene, in the theater and the 2 others died later at the hospital. Click below to read more and watch disturbing and frantic cell phone video that was filmed by a movie goer on the scene just after the shooting took place.

At least 14 people were killed and 50 wounded when a gunman opened fire during an early Friday morning screening of the new Batman movie at an Aurora, Colorado, theater, Police Chief Dan Oates told reporters. The heavily armed suspect, who was wearing a bulletproof vest, was apprehended by police in a rear parking lot of the theater, Frank Fania, a police spokesman, told CNN. The suspect was not immediately identified, though Fania said he was believed to be in his early 20s. “He did not resist. He did not put up a fight,” Fania said. Police seized a rifle and a handgun from the suspect, and another gun was found in the theater, he said. Oates said there was no evidence of a second gunman. Chaos broke out during the showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” at the Century Aurora 16 theater when the shooting began, police and witnesses said. “We saw people running around and screaming,” a man, who was not identified, told CNN affiliate KUSA. He said there was confusion in the theater when the shooting began because many believed the sound of gunfire was coming from the movie. Oates said that the suspect used some sort of “smoke device” before opening fire in the theater. Witnesses told KUSA that the gunman kicked in an emergency exit door and threw a smoke bomb into the darkened theater before opening fire. One movie-goer, who was not identified, told KUSA the gunman was wearing a gas mask when he released a smoke bomb and then began moving through the theater, randomly shooting at people. Cell phone video taken by someone at the theater showed scores of people screaming and fleeing the building. Some had blood on their clothes.

One police officer carried a girl believed to be about 9 with gunshot wound to her back out of the theater, a witness said. “She wasn’t moving.” Authorities have also evacuated the suspect’s Aurora apartment building after “he made a statement about explosives” in his unit, Oates said. Ten people were killed in the theater and another four died at area hospitals, Oates said. Hundreds of police officers descended on the theater, and the FBI has joined the investigation. “We were calling for help from every police and fire agency,” Fania said.

This is an absolutely horrific tragedy … one that could’ve taken place in any city in the world. I realize that this is not the type of coverage that we usually feature on this blog but considering how much so many of us have been eagerly anticipating the release of this film, it’s easy to envision how this senseless attack could’ve happened to any of us. I, myself, just got home from my midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises and as I heard the news report on the radio on my drive home, I had horrible flashes of what it could’ve been like had this attack happened here in LA. My theater, the ArcLight in Hollywood, CA, was jam packed with people … throngs of people lining up to get tickets, lining up to get into theaters, lining up for food, just packed into every part of the multiplex theater. It occurred to me how easily someone could’ve gotten hurt if people started to push and shove one another. Imagining what the chaos might’ve been like in an equally packed theater with gunfire going off … it’s not difficult to feel empathy for the people affected … and not difficult to feel lucky that this didn’t happen to me.

I fear this story may get even more tragic with the possibility of more deaths so please, let’s keep the people of Aurora, CO in our thoughts, well wishes and prayers. I know that many of you will be heading out to packed theaters all weekend long … I dunno, just stay alert and be safe. This attack is just really hard to fully process right now. Keep the victims of this shooting in your positive thoughts.

UPDATE: Aurora Police are now only confirming 12 dead and 59 people injured — the dead/injured include a 3 month old baby and a 6 year old child. The early report of 14 dead and 50 injured now appears to be incorrect.

UPDATE 2: ABC News is now reporting that the suspect has been identified as 24 year old James Holmes:

The suspect, James Holmes, 24, of Aurora, was caught by police in the parking lot of the Century 16 Movie Theaters, nine miles outside Denver, after police began receiving dozens of 911 calls at 12:39 a.m. MT. Police said the man appeared to have acted alone … 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. A San Diego woman identifying herself as James Holmes’s mother spoke briefly with ABC News this morning. She had awoken unaware of the news of the shooting and had not been contacted by authorities. She immediately expressed concern that her son may have been involved. “You have the right person,” she said. “I need to call the police,” she added. “I need to fly out to Colorado.”

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  1. Lauri

    It’s sick. That is all I have to say. I TRULY hope they don’t release the names, though I know they will- and a media circus will follow. Nobody willing to hurt, or KILL others for whatever reason (or lack of) deserves infamy, at all.

    • Vicky

      Sadly, they have already released the sickos name. Colorado has the death penalty but this guy will probably pleasd insanity and end up getting off.

    • It might be tough to prove an insanity defense since it seems there was careful planning and thought behind the attack. It doesn’t seem like it was a temporary mental break.

  2. Lauri

    Also, I commented without reading the whole post- as my dad had texted me a bit ago telling me about what had happened- without an outlet otherwise-one of the many things I love about this blog is it’s ability to be frivolous in celebrity gossip, as well as it’s ability to post sincerely about things that really ‘matter.’

  3. GH

    This absolutely disgusts me. What is going on with the world lately? I live in Toronto, and we just had a recent shooting at a community BBQ, and another shooting in a mall.
    When is all of this senseless violence going to end?

  4. Alys

    The worst part is that it’s being reported he started shooting during a shooting scene in the movie. The audience didn’t immediately realize what was going on for a few seconds, which surely increased the casualty rate and terror.

    My heart goes out to the victims and citizens in Colorado. No matter what the cause of this nightmare — and I’m sure the media will speculate upon plenty — we should focus our attention on helping the survivors.

  5. Shiny

    Awful.

  6. Trent, you’re right. As horrific as this was I could see it happening at any big premiere. I initially thought that a fight had broken out, inciting violence but now it sounds like this was a less impulsive attack. There were people jumping the line at the screening I went to and I was glad nobody made a big deal about it. I thought this was going to be that kind of story, but it’s much worse. I say that because it sounds far more calculated and premeditated. Which is very scary. Thanks for covering this.

  7. Keely

    This doesn’t feel real to me. It sounds like something that would happen in the movie, doesn’t it?

    It’s terrible. Tragic.

    What a world we live in, when something like this is reality?

  8. This is just awful. I am so sick of this happening. Can we please have stricter gun laws so lunatics can’t get their hands on weapons?

    • Criminals and disturbed individuals will always find a way to get a weapon if they really want to.

    • Vicky

      But why not make it harder for them to do so, and at the same time make penalties stricter. If it prevents even one nut job from getting a gun – that’s a win.

    • Krissy

      Guns do allow people to kill more and faster. If he had to run up and stab everyone, I think there would have been fewer casualties.

      I believe in gun rights, but I don’t agree with large magazines, rapid fire abilities, etc. After hearing a Miami police chief talk about how gun laws drastically change what they encounter on the streets, I think the laws do make a difference.

  9. Krissy

    This so awful. Hasn’t that area of Colorado been through enough? How can people do this? Killing people for no reason, murdering children. Why?

  10. Will

    Crimes like these really makes me wonder why the U.S. (or other countries) do not get a tighter regulations on firearms! Didn’t people learn anything from Columbine and other tragedies!? NOW THAT’S SICKING!
    I’m recently living in Japan (a country where having a gun is almost total prohibited) and I may say that I’ve never felt safer in my life the way I’m feeling here.
    I don’t have to worry about going out alone in Tokyo at midnight and getting fucking SHOT!
    If you see the news here in Japan, you’ll notice that there’s almost no crimes involving firearms (maybe one a year) because… guess what… NOBODY HAS A GUN TO BEGIN WITH!
    Of course Japan ain’t perfect in terms of safety (we do have our regular “little psychos with a knife” here too), but I do really respect the decision of the government of banning firearms from everyone.
    So many innocent people die everyday from a gunshot that the “self-defense” excuse is not even an excuse anymore.
    I believe more innocent people dies from a gun, than actually being “protected” by a gun.
    Sorry for being so emotional…
    It’s just so sad :(

    • Totally and completely agree with you Will. Gun crimes are virtually non existent in countries like Japan and France which have zero tolerance policies on firearms. Yes, there is still violent crimes in these places, but you are not able to do as much damage with a knife as with a semi automatic weapon.

      The argument that these offenders will find a way to get them anyway is ineffective. If we make it very hard to get them gun crimes will reduce. This guy had FOUR guns with him. CO did not learn from the lessons of Columbine. Please tighten your gun laws CO!

  11. ClaireMichelle

    This is all just so unreal. Everything about it is just so senseless, it really could have happened anywhere. And everyone in that theater just wanted to enjoy a movie and escape for a few hours. This all just blows my mind. I am counting my blessings today, including that this did not happen at my theater last night, and I am sending all of my thoughts and prayers to everyone involved in this tragedy.

    And on top of all of this, it sucks that the gunman is probably getting exactly what he wanted from this: Recognition, fame, publicity. He is on every news program, website, etc. Ugh. This is all so awful I can’t even comprehend it.

  12. This is sickening! I feel so bad for the poor family of those children. You think you’re going to take a night out and the horrific happens. What sadness. I pray for those people that were killed and injured.

  13. Tatl

    Why were there 6 year olds and a 3 month old baby in the theater?

    • @Tati — I don’t think it’s productive or helpful at all to get wrapped up in this line of questioning … this sort of thing makes it sound like blame should be placed on parents who bring their children to movie theaters.

    • Lynsey

      I’m with Tatl on this one. I think the question should be asked–maybe it’s a bit soon to be bringing it up this close to it. But those babies/kids should have been in bed asleep not at a violent movie at midnight.

    • @Lynsey — While I understand that many people have strong feelings about how babies/kids “should” and “should not” be cared for, again, I feel the need to bring such notions into this sort of tragedy is counterproductive. To what end is this sort of discussion relevant? I dunno, I just don’t like the idea of misplaced blame when dealing with a tragedy like this.

    • Lo

      Tati I had this reaction initially also, especially as a mother. But then I remembered once when I was 6 my parents dressed my sister and I in jammies, packed blankets and pillows and took us with them to see a nighttime showing of Indiana Jones. They were totally responsible parents, but wanted to see the movie and couldn’t easily afford a baby-sitter. We slept in the theater and they watched the movie. It’s easy to say these parents are irresponsible, but also if this tragedy hadn’t happened most of us wouldn’t bat an eye. Regardless, this is all just too horrible for words…

  14. like so many other folks, i’m having a really hard time getting my head and my heart around this.

    i don’t know how to post a picture here, but i saw this and it made me feel the tiniest, little bit better (i hope a link is ok):

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=652533826656&set=p.652533826656&type=1&theater

  15. I’m not about to take away people’s second amendment right but I think that it’s about time we make gun ownership harder to obtain and maintain. The way I’ve thought about it was required background checks every year, gun safety classes, a hefty licensing fee, and more importantly having better ways to report people who have issues (anger, emotional distress, etc) who also have guns. So that if a report is made someone can check to make sure that person is fit to carry the gun. It isn’t the gun that makes the decision it’s the people who do. Quite frankly this is one area of “privacy” I’m more than okay with getting invaded. Yes, I realize if someone is dead set on getting a gun they will but making it harder to do… Certainly could be a good thing.

    My heart aches for those affected. I hope justice is swift and to the fullest extent.

    As far as insanity plea, he won’t get it. He’s fully aware of his actions based upon how planned this is beginning to sound.

  16. rOXy

    At least they didn’t let the coward who did this kill himself to get out of his justice. My heart and prayers to everyone concerned. People were just innocently trying to watch a movie. A very sad day.

  17. Jeepgirl

    First I would like to state my condolences to those directly affected by this tragedy.

    However, Gun Control is not the issue here. There are alot of what ifs on both sides of the argument (What if laws were stricter) (What if someone had a concealed weapon) etc. The FACT of the matter is that any person capable of comitting such a crime is sick. If he had no access to guns (we still do not know if he legally owned his)there are many other items which are much easier to come by that be used to kill mass amounts of people. Cars for instance kill more people than guns – all a psycho would have to do is drive his car full speed through a crowd of people. Bombs can be made from everyday household items, chainsaws, homemade flame throwers (all have the ability to kill much more than any gun). Bottom Line: You can eliminate the guns but it wont eliminate the problem. The sick individuals will adapt and choose a new method to carry out their crimes.

    The problem that we should be focusing on is 1) What can be done to make sure people with known (his mother clearly knew) or visable mental illness are properly treated and/or prevented (locked up) BEFORE comitting their crime and 2) The world is getting worse every single day and we can not expect the government or law enforcement to protect us all. What can we as citizens do to better prepare ourselves for various types of emergency situations because my guess is that will be seeing a lot more tragidies in the years to come.

    I apologize if my post is long winded but my ownership of a gun saved my life and I think when a disscussion such as this arises – the root of the actual problem is what should be focused on.

    • Krissy

      I agree that we need to have a big discussion about mental health, and how that can be addressed before something like this happens. That is so very, very important.

      However, I think that gun control is something we also need to talk about. He had an AR-15, which isn’t your average gun. I think it would be irresponsible to ignore the gun issue when you look back over recent tragedies (Columbine-13 dead, Viginia Tech-32 dead, Gabrielle Giffords event-6 dead, Fort Hood-13 dead, hair salon in Seal Beach-8 dead, etc.)…all of these killers used guns as their means to kill so many people. To ignore that isn’t productive.

    • Bel

      How are you going to lock someone up before they commit a crime? Where I live we don’t have guns. I think it’s warped that people are allowed to own a gun and defend owning a gun. They’re used for nothing else but to kill and wound people or animals. What a marvellous thing for anyone to be able to get so easily. This is a horrible, horrible thing that has occurred, but if this lunatic didn’t have the same weapons this wouldn’t have happened.

    • Jeepgirl

      @Krissy – I don’t think we should ignore gun control but rather realize in most cases it would do nothing to prevent this kind of occurance. This individual had no criminal record and to my knowledge nothing else that would have prevented him from legally owning a weapon. I understand your point about the AR, however guns are very easily obtained illegally and I think people should focus more on illegal gun trade and less on standard gun control.

      @Bel – When I said lock someone up, I meant commit them to a mental hospital for evaluation. His mother did not seem surprised by the news at all and if she was aware that her son could be a danger to society there should be a way to have them committed and evaluated. As far as owning a gun being “warped” – when a man broke into my house and threatened my life, should I have let him take it? He outweighed me by at least 200lbs and would have easily won any sort of physical confrontation. It took the police over 10 minutes to arrive and I hate to think what could have happened in those 10 minutes had I not been armed.

    • Krissy

      Jeepgirl, I really appreciate that you are being so respectful even though we disagree on some points. Kudos for that! I will try to continue that, so please hear the following words in a respectful tone. ;)

      When we talk about gun laws, I think it is important to note that some who want tighter gun laws don’t necessarily think they all should go away, rather they want to address things like waiting periods, background checks, large magazines, rapid fire power, armor piercing, etc. I do think that illegal guns are a problem, but most of the time what is legal informs what will be available illegally. It usually isn’t the type of gun that makes them illegal, it is usually illegal because of how a person gets them and their ability to be traced. If you make the legal guns safer, the illegal guns will also be a little bit safer (or less lethal). I think that a gun with a limited amount of fire power can keep someone safe in their home while also making it more difficult for someone to shoot vast amounts of bullets in one fell swoop.

      Also, the shooter in this case, in Columbine, in Virginia Tech, in Arizona were not criminals before they committed their acts of violence. IMO, I don’t think that we can assume they would be comfortable or successful with approaching criminal underground networks of gun smugglers, or even know where these connections would exist. I don’t think it is fair to assume that medical student would get a gun from a gang banger as easily as he would from a gun shop.

      In regards to Mr. Holmes mental health, if his mother was able to spot his mental illness, why didn’t the person who sold him his gun notice this? He bought all 4 weapons legally since May from the same shop (which isn’t that long ago). Perhaps our gun laws, which vary greatly state by state, should include a more complete mental illness evaluation. It seems as if this should have been caught if it was that apparent to his mother.

      Thank you for your thoughts, I think it is important for citizens to discuss these things and brainstorm over approriate solutions. Have a great weekend!

    • Bel

      Jeepgirl, I think what happened to you is horrible and I’m sorry for that. But I can’t agree with you that everyone should have a gun in the case that someone attacks them.

  18. Lynsey

    http://abcnews.go.com/US/couple-colo-theater-shooting-escape-baby-toddler-tow/story?id=16821447#.UAmx2aCfjaI

    If we can’t talk about babies being in theaters, can we discuss that the father of the baby being discussed put his baby on the ground (near the stairs) and left his fiance and her child in the theater while all this was going on?

  19. Kelly

    I have to say having lived in CO until weeks ago and having watched the news nightly have to say this happening in Auora is not surprising the crime there is obsurd but what also bothers me is why were these punk kids standing outside filming this and them commenting on “how good thing we weren’t in that movie and pointing out the blood”. Leads me based on their tones and filming they don’t realize how serious this is and rude of them. Very inconsiderate punks, people were just murdered. Get a life!

  20. Ariel

    this is so sad, i wonder what if i had been there with my boyfriend or friends or family, it’s just terrible.the laws on gun control needs to be reviewed.

  21. claire

    I don’t know what the answer is if there even is an answer. Everyone has their own opinion and these things will continue to happen and the same discussion will occur time and time again.

    Personally, I am not a big fan of guns. Quite the opposite in fact.

  22. Luna

    @Kelly, I agreed with you! I was baffled why there would be people shooting them coming out of the theater and was even more so when people were clapping when the “survivors” walked out. What the ?

    And I was appalled that a 3-month old baby is one of the injured/dead victims :(

    Coming from a country where gun ownership is COMPLETELY banned, I can’t reiterate how much safer I feel when I go out. Sure there are still crimes with all sorts of weapons out there but at the very least, I know I wouldn’t be shot at randomly by anyone on the streets. I really don’t understand why the US doesn’t want to enforce tighter gun control laws after all the recent shooting mishaps. To be honest, I’m all for total gun banning in the whole country. It makes me completely confuzzled that people value their freedom than their lives of their kids and adults?

    Tighter gun control will help to a big extent but as long as guns are out there in the public’s hands, things are still going to happen someday.

    And with regards to the commentor who mentioned about evaluating mental illnesses and locking them up before they can commit crimes, with all due respect to you but I’m sorry I don’t think this could work out.

    Mental illnesses are not easy to verify, that’s why you see there are so many criminals hoping to escape their sentences by pleading insanity because it’s a very grey area. Even so, crimes are STILL perfectly commitable by people with sane minds. Anything that requires “evaluations” e.g. evaluating the suitability of someone owning a gun, mental illness etc are done by humans and we all know that humans have the tendency to “abuse” that evaluations for whatever reasons (bribes, helping families, friends etc). Making a law to ban guns outright will help greatly cos no guns means no guns. Doesn’t need any “evaluations” by humans.

    Pardon my English as it’s not my first language. But I hope everyone understands what I’m trying to put across.

    • Will

      @Luna
      I agree with you 120%!
      Thank you! You basically said everything I was trying to say!
      I’m also living in a country (Japan) where guns are completely banned, and seriously, it’s amazing how safe it is here.
      I’m much more relaxed walking the streets (even the “dangerous” ones) because I know the chances of me getting shot or even threatened are very low.
      It kind scares me how people keep justifying reasons to own a gun; a weapon specifically designed to kill things, fast and easy.
      We do have crimes in Japan where the criminal uses other weapons to do the crime (knifes, bats, gases, and recently cars), but you can’t compare it to the damages of something like a gun.
      I also agree about the “mental illness” thing.
      I’m no psychiatrist, but I believe it to be hard to define and “punish” someone based on their mental state before they commit a crime. It will be hard to detect if someone is actually a psycho unless they actually do the crime.
      The main problem here is that people are living in (and supporting) an environment where even these “psychos” can own a gun, and most of the people don’t even notice how problematic that can be!
      The argument about “crazy people will get their hands on guns one way or another” is also meaningless. The government does have the power to control and limit things if they really wanted to. Here In Japan for example, the government makes it almost impossible for you to actually buy or own a gun (or any other weapons that may be considered dangerous).
      Don’t get me wrong, I do believe in freedom in many ways. But I also do believe that making a weapon so DEADLY available to almost everyone in the country to be wrong.
      You can’t really blame a criminal who shoots innocent people if you yourself are enabling them to get the weapon!

      oh, and again @Luna:
      I’m also not an English native speaker, but you do speak better than most of the people I know! LOL
      So don’t worry :)

  23. Luna

    Sorry, it should be “filming at them coming out of the theater”. Not trying to make a horrible pun on this whole tragedy :(

  24. Kelly

    Luna- glad to know I wasn’t the only one who found it disrespectful to those who had just lost their lives. No respect from kids these days… Couldn’t imagine myself ever filming that. Gross.

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