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Theater gunman in court Monday

Gunman James Holmes surrenders without incident

AURORA, Colo. | July 20, 2012

The thrill of being the first to see the new Batman movie Friday morphed to terror at an Aurora, Colo., theater where a gunman opened fire and killed 12 people.

Police said 24-year-old James Holmes threw tear-gas canisters into the crowded theater then opened fire, killing at least 12 people and wounding 38 others, including a 3-month-old child, CNN reported.

Holmes surrendered without incident, Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said.

Holmes is due in court Monday.

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 when approaching the apartment. The immediate area was evacuated.

So far, no reason has been given for the shooting at a midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises," the newest movie in the Batman franchise.

Oates later said Holmes' apartment was rigged with "pretty sophisticated" explosives and unsafe to enter.

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 said.

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

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" that 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 to 38.

Witnesses said the suspect entered the theater during the midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises," threw some type of explosive and started shooting into the crowd at Century 16 Movie Theaters at the Aurora Town Center.

The man had a rifle, a handgun and a gas mask when police arrested him, The Denver Post said.

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

Police said there were no indications others were involved in the shooting.

Oates said witnesses said the gunman was dressed in black and wore a gas mask.

"Witnesses tell us he released some sort of canister," Oates said. "They heard a hissing sound and some gas emerged and the gunman opened fire."

Witnesses told KUSA the suspect tossed two gas canisters into the theater after breaking down the emergency exit door. Many movie-goers initially thought the sound of gunfire was coming from the movie or from a movie shown in an adjacent theater, or was part of a publicity stunt, KUSA said.

"He looked so calm when he did it," a witness said. "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.'"

President Obama and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney both expressed sorrow and offered condolences.

2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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