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Reaction swift to deadly CO shooting

Gunman opens fire as patrons watch Batman premiere. At least 12 dead, dozens injured

AURORA, CO | July 20, 2012

A man suspected of killing at least 12 people during a showing of the new Batman movie in a Aurora, Colo., multiplex was in custody, police said Friday.

Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said, in addition to the deaths, at least 50 people were injured during the early Friday screening of "The Dark Knight Rises," KUSA-TV, Denver, reported.

President Obama turned a campaign event in Fort Myers, Fla., into a moment of silence, calling on participants to pray for the victims of a Colorado shooting.

"This morning, we woke up to news of a tragedy that reminds us of all the ways we are united as one American family," Obama said of the mass shooting during a midnight showing of "The Dark Night Rises," the latest Batman movie, at a theater complex in Aurora, Colo. Twelve people died and dozens more were injured.

"While we may never understand what leads anyone to terrorize their fellow human beings like this," Obama said, "we do know what makes life worth living."

Obama had several campaign events scheduled in Florida, but canceled them after receiving word of the shootings.

"I am so grateful that all of you are here. I am so moved by your support," Obama said. "But there are going to be other days for politics. This, I think, is a day of prayer and reflection."

Oates said 10 of the victims were declared dead at the scene and four died at area hospitals.

Witnesses said the gunman kicked open an emergency exit door in one of the theaters, threw smoke bombs then began shooting. The "smoke bombs" may have been tear gas canisters.

"We saw people running around and screaming," one person told KUSA.

He said many of the moviegoers first thought the sound of gunfire was coming from the movie showing in an adjacent theater at the Cinemark Century 16 Movie Theaters at the Town Center at Aurora in suburban Denver. More than 20 showings of the popular movie had been scheduled for today.

Bullets went through a wall striking movie patrons in an adjoining theater. "The Dark Knight Rises" was being shown on several screens at the multiplex in a midnight premier.

Police arrested the suspect, who was wearing a bulletproof vest, in the theater's parking lot, police spokesman Frank Fania told CNN. A rifle, handgun and another gun were found in the theater.

At least 20 of the wounded were being treated at the University of Colorado Hospital, facility spokeswoman Jacque Montgomery. The gunshot injuries ranged from minor to critical.

It was the largest mass shooting in Colorado since the Columbine tragedy in April 1999 when 15 people were killed in Littleton, another Denver suburb less than 20 miles away.

Copyright 2012 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.

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