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Mass Shooting at Colo. Movie Theater, 12 People Dead
By ANTHONY CASTELLANO | Good Morning America
A lone gunman dressed in riot gear burst into a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., at a midnight showing of the Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises" and methodically began shooting patrons, killing at least 12 people and injuring at least 50.
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.
Witnesses in the movie theater said Holmes crashed into the auditorium through an emergency exit about 30 minutes into the film, set off a smoke bomb, and began shooting. Holmes stalked the aisles of the theater, shooting people at random, as panicked movie-watchers in the packed auditorium tried to escape, witnesses said.
"You just smelled smoke and you just kept hearing it, you just heard bam bam bam, non-stop. The gunman never had to reload. Shots just kept going, kept going, kept going," one witness told ABC News.
"I'm with coworkers and we're on the floor praying to God we don't get shot, and the gunshots continue on and on, and when the sound finally stopped, we started to get up and people were just bleeding," another theatergoer said.
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."
Holmes was wearing a bullet-proof vest and riot helmet and carrying a gas mask, rifle, and handgun, when he was apprehended, according to police. Holmes mentioned having explosives stored, leading police to evacuate his entire North Aurora apartment complex and search the buildings early this morning.
The highly-anticipated third installment of the Batman triology opened to packed auditoriums around the country at midnight showings on Friday morning, and features a villain named Bane who wears a bulletproof vest and gas mask. Trailers for the movie show explosions at public events including a football game. Though many moviegoers dressed in costume to attend the opening night screening, police have made no statements about any connection between the gunman's motives and the movie.
Police in New York have intensified security around showings of the film throughout the five boroughs today, with police commissioner Ray Kelley saying that "as a precaution against copycats and to raise the comfort levels among movie patrons in the wake of the horrendous shooting in Colorado, the New York City Police Department is providing coverage at theaters where the 'The Dark Knight Rises' is playing."
The Paris premiere of the movie has been cancelled in the wake of the shootings. "Warner Bros. is deeply saddened to learn about this shocking incident. We extend our sincere sympathies to the families and loved ones of the victims at this tragic time," the movie's producers, said in a statement.
Witnesses watching movies in theaters next to the one where the shooting took place said bullets tore through the theater walls and they heard screaming.
"The suspect throws tear gas in the air, and as the tear gas appears he started shooting," said Lamar Lane, who was watching the midnight showing of the movie with his brother. "It was very hard to breathe. I told my brother to take cover. It took awhile. I started seeing flashes and screaming, I just saw blood and people yelling and a quick glimpse of the guy who had a gas mask on. I was pushed out. There was chaos, we started running."
One witness said she saw people dropping to the ground after the gunshots began.
"We were maybe 20 or 30 minutes into the movie and all you hear, first you smell smoke, everybody thought it was fireworks or something like that, and then you just see people dropping and the gunshots are constant," witness Christ Jones told ABC's Denver affiliate KMGH. "I heard at least 20 to 30 rounds within that minute or two."
A man who talked to a couple who was inside the theater told ABC News, "They got up and they started to run through the emergency exit, and that when she turned around, she said all she saw was the guy slowly making his way up the stairs and just firing at people, just picking random people," he said. "The gunshots continued to go on and on and then after we didn't hear anything...we finally got up and there was people bleeding, there was people obviously may have been actually dead or anything, and we just ran up out of there, there was chaos everywhere."
Witnesses and victims were taken to Gateway High School for questioning.
Hundreds of police and FBI agents are involved in the investigation. A senior official who is monitoring the situation in Washington said that early guidance based on the early snapshot of this man's background indicated that this act does not appear to be linked to radical terrorism or anything related to Islamic terrorism.
Though police have said that they believe the shooter was acting alone, they checked all cars in the parking lot and cleared the area near the theater.
Dr. Comilla Sasson, at the University of Colorado Hospital where many of the victims were taken, said they are currently operating on nine critical patients and have treated 22 in all. She called the hospital "an absolutely terrifying scene all night."
"The good news is that the 3-month-old has actually been discharged home and is in the care of their parents
In a statement, President Obama said, "Michelle and I are shocked and saddened by the horrific and tragic shooting in Colorado. Federal and local law enforcement are still responding, and my administration will do everything that we can to support the people of Aurora in this extraordinarily difficult time. We are committed to bringing whoever was responsible to justice, ensuring the safety of our people, and caring for those who have been wounded."
A man who was in the adjacent theater with his son, said that the commotion began as one of the action scenes was starting up.
"These guys came through, and they say someone's shooting," he said. "I thought, 'Oh, they must have heard the fireworks, you know ... I had no idea. And then the alarms started to go off in the theater.'"
An explosive device was also found inside the movie house. Police are not sure whether the device, which investigators are calling a bomb, was already in place or whether it was thrown into the crowd.
Ambulances rushed to the scene as audience members fled the theater.
Investigators are now interviewing friends and associates of the suspect to get a sense of the man's background.
Photos at below site...
http://abcnews.go.com/US/slideshow/colo … s-16818553
With alleged reports that the killer had colored his hair red in some fashion, it's likely we'll see more comment on how these events bore an eerie similarity to a scene from Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns":
http://washingtonexaminer.com/batman-mo … le/2502701
But the mistake many often make in these situations is to try to rationalize what some nut did. Even if the comic or Batman itself never existed, this guy was still going to snap and try to kill a bunch of people; he would have just chosen another low security event where he knew a lot of people would gather.
Yea, unfortunately people always blame this kind of thing on something else. I remember after Columbine they found Stephen King books in the kids rooms so they blamed him and his stories. And of course they always blame video games... Now with this they'll be talking about banning superhero movies and comics. You might as well blame romance novels and movies like "Sleepless in Seattle" every time a woman is raped.
That aside, I feel horrible for the victims and their families.
This guy went from PHD medical student to savage murderer. Obviously he snapped and went Rambo. The description of him re-enacting some kind of Batman fantasy just proves it, nut job.
I find the knee jerk police reactions to be ridiculous. When has there EVER been a copycat crime? One thing I just don't understand is how sales of AR-15's to non-law enforcement personnel is legal? It was once banned.
The NRA just want to sell more guns. Gun Lobby has our politicians by the balls and both parties Democrats and Republicans are afraid to man up and deal with them. I am not afraid of guns, I am all for owning a handgun or shotgun to protect one's family.
But an assault rifle? WTF? Who needs these except active duty military?
SWAT teams have them, thanks to the Waste on Drugs, I mean War on Drugs. I refuse to blame the NRA lobby for this shooting though. At some point, we all have to except blame that this is a violence loving society. We can't discuss sex, can't curse on radio or TV, can't make fun of anything without a PC group screaming, and everyone worships morons like the Kardashians. Shit even Clint Eastwood, the king of cool, has an incredibly dumb and materialistic family. It's just insane. Mental illness is ignored, try getting health insurance to pay for that! The unfortunate are treated as thieves, ignored, preyed on for the quick buck. And people are surprised when a guy who has mental problems feels he's failing at life, and goes deeper and deeper into insanity? I'm not.
What's interesting is that this movie will be associated with violence.....but the movie itself actually shies away from violence at almost every turn. People die in the movie, sure, but Nolan shoots a lot of the deaths from angles where the violence is implied more than shown. In a world where violence is shown more and more graphically (#dirtylaundry is a prime example), Nolan chose to leave a lot of deaths to the imagination.
And I couldn't help but think of a line from the Dark Knight. "(Batman) was supposed to inspire good. Not madness. Not death."
This doesn't have anything to do with owning guns, or what guns people own. If he couldn't get his hands on fancy guns, he would have probably gone into the theater with more explosives and more people probably would have died. You can't do away with explosives, because you can make them from any number of basic household items and you can make them pretty damn deadly.
Situations like this are usually used to push for more gun control, but it doesn't seem to be working this time. Gun sales in Colorado are up after this shooting. The assault rifle ban that we had in place for years didn't work. Strict gun control in certain cities has not proven effective. Even in entire countries, it doesn't seem to work. Those laws only serve to limit guns in the hands of sane, law abiding citizens.
It also defeats the purpose of the Second Amendment, which was designed specifically so that the American people would be able to protect the rights that our founding fathers established for us. The American people are meant to be the final layer of defense for our country and our freedom. The Amendment wasn't put in place just to protect hunting rights, or to shoot at the guy who breaks into your home. It was meant to arm the people in case of war. People laugh at that now, because we've gotten comfortable in America. They think that we would never need that type of militia. But dictators happen, usually when people get too comfortable and shrug off the idea.
This dude didn't merely snap and start shooting up the place. He planned this. He is buckets of crazy, but this wasn't him snapping. If he didn't have access to any guns at all, he simply would have planned it a different way. Not that I associate this event with Batman movies at all (the notion of people suing Warner Bros is absurd) but the line "Some people just want to see the world burn" comes to mind.