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.”