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12 killed, 59 hurt in 'Batman shooting'

Gunman started shooting indiscriminately

AURORA, Colo. | July 20, 2012


" We are confident he acted alone"

—Daniel Oates


A black-clad gunman burst into a midnight showing of the new Batman movie Friday, killing 12 people and wounding 59 others in Aurora, Colo.

Aurora Police Chief Daniel Oates told a late-morning news conference the gunman, identified as James Eagan Holmes, 24, threw two devices into the theater, waited for them to ignite and then started shooting indiscriminately.

Oates said the suspect, dressed in black body armor, was armed with an AR-15 assault rifle, a 20-gauge Remington shotgun and a .40-caliber Glock. A second Glock was found in his car, a white Hyundai parked at the back of the theater.

"We are not looking for any other suspects. We are confident he acted alone," Oates said.

The movie, "The Dark Knight Rises," was showing in four of the theaters at the Century 16 Movie Theaters at the Aurora Town Center and each of the showings was sold out, Oates said.

Oates said 200 witnesses had been interviewed so far. Police were on the scene within 90 seconds of the first call to 911, received at 12:39 a.m. MDT, he said.

Holmes was arrested without incident immediately after police arrived, Oates said.

"We will be here for some time," Oats said, adding there was no initial estimate on how many rounds had been fired but there was a massive amount of evidence inside the theater.

Oates refused to speculate on the reason behind the shooting or how the suspect got into the theater beyond saying his car was parked at the door.

Of the 71 people hit, 10 died at the scene and two at hospitals, 16 were reported in critical condition and one of those hit was in an adjoining theater, Oates said. The shooting took place in theater No. 9 at the movieplex.

Holmes, who grew up in San Diego, received a speeding ticket last October in Aurora and that was the extent of previous police contact with him, Oates said.

Oates said the apartment building where Holmes lived in Aurora and surrounding buildings had been evacuated. Investigators found incendiary and chemical booby traps inside his apartment and were trying to determine how to deal with them.

The FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were involved in the investigation.

President Obama ordered flags lowered to half-staff to honor the victims.

Holmes was due in court Monday.

The next police briefing was scheduled for 7 p.m.

Police gingerly surveyed Holmes' apartment after he told authorities he had explosives there. Video showed officers gently placing equipment on the apartment windows and taking precautions in approaching it.

Jim Yacone, special agent in charge of the Denver FBI, said agents were working on "how to disarm the flammable or explosive material," The Denver Post reported.

A neighbor of Holmes' said she and other residents were awakened by police and told to dress and evacuate immediately, The Washington Post reported.

Cellphone video of the Colorado theater in what appears to be the aftermath of the shooting.

Holmes was a doctoral candidate in neurosciences at the University of Colorado at Denver, KUSA-TV, Denver, reported.

"The University of Colorado Denver-Aschutz Medical Campus can confirm that Holmes was in the process of withdrawing from the University of Colorado Denver's graduate program in neurosciences," the university said in a release.

A Pentagon spokesman said there were "indications" some of the casualties -- not differentiating between dead or wounded -- were members of the U.S. military, CNN reported.

CNN also reported nearby Buckley Air Force Base was conducting a head count of military personnel stationed at the base and their families.

The Holmes family, in a statement issued from San Diego, expressed condolences to those involved in the tragedy in Aurora.

The statement said the family was "still trying to process this information" and was cooperating with authorities in San Diego and Aurora."

Aurora, part of the Denver metropolitan area, is about 17 miles from Littleton, Colo., scene of the 1999 Columbine High School massacre in which two students shot and killed 12 students and one teacher, and wounded 21 other people before committing suicide.

Police initially said 14 were killed and 50 were injured in Friday's massacre but later revised the death toll to 12 and the number injured first to 38 and then to 59.

"He looked so calm when he did it," a witness told KUSA. "It was like scary. He waited for both the bombs to explode before he did anything. Then, after both of them exploded, he began to shoot."

Witnesses said the suspect first fired into the air, then starting shooting at people.

"He had no specific target. He just started letting loose," another witness told KUSA.

"When you first see him, you don't know if he's a part of the movie, or a part of the act," Auston Ivey told KUSA. "When [the gas canister] hit the ground, it just started spinning. Being that it went off right next to us, it was hard to breathe. The first thing we immediately did was duck. All we could think about was getting to the door as fast as I could. "There was people limping, saying 'I've been shot, I've been shot.'"

Obama and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney both expressed sorrow and offered condolences. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano also expressed sorrow, calling the incident "horrific."

"This is the act of a very deranged mind," Gov. John Hickenlooper said, calling the shooting "a senseless tragedy."

"This is a safe city, a safe state and a safe country. We need to recognize we can't allow people that are aberrations of nature take away the freedoms we enjoy."

2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


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More links on Public Violence

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