At least 12 people are dead after a shooting at a movie theater in suburban Denver, police said early Friday morning. Some fifty-nine more were shot, making the incident the largest mass shooting in U.S. history. The gunfire broke out during a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises early Friday. Moviegoers were in the theater when they say the shooter “released some sort of canister. They heard a hissing sound, and some gas emerged, and the gunman opened fire,” according to Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates. Witnesses told The New York Times that the gunman was dressed "for battle" in head to toe body armor, and appeared to be "having fun" while he shot off "many, many rounds."
Apartment Trip Wires Detonated
Although the effort to clear out shooting suspect James Holmes' explosive-rigged apartment is not yet over, bomb disposal experts just scored a key victory: disarming a trip wire linked to a major explosive device. The booby trap was set up to kill anyone who came in through the door, Sgt. Cassidee Carlson told the Associated Press. According to witnesses, two explosions rang out while authorities were inside, but no one was hurt. "This is some serious stuff our team is dealing with," Carlson said at a news briefing. "There is no timeline, there is no end time. We don't need to rush anything."
Suspect James Holmes Arrested
Colorado police arrested a 24-year-old suspect named James Holmes outside the movie theater minutes after the gunfire stopped. “He did not resist. He did not put up a fight,” police spokesman Frank Fania told CNN. Police say they have no evidence that there was more than one shooter. Police have said that the man’s only prior incident with law enforcement was a traffic ticket he received in 2011.
Police said Saturday that Holmes had bought four guns and 6,000 rounds of ammunition at local gunshops in the two months before Friday's shooting. All of Holmes' personal armory was purchased legally. "All the ammunition he possessed, he possessed legally; all the weapons he possessed, he possessed legally; all the clips he possessed, he possessed legally," Aurora chief of police Dan Oates said. The weapons used in the shooting Friday were powerful enough to penetrate the theater walls and strike a moviegoer at an adjacent screening.
Nolan: Shooting Was a 'Senseless Tragedy'
Batman series director Christopher Nolan issued a statement in response to the shooting that left 12 dead and more than 70 injured during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises. On behalf of the movie’s cast and crew, Nolan expressed their “profound sorrow” for the victims, their families and the Aurora community. “Nothing any of us can say could ever adequately express our feelings for the innocent victims of this appalling crime,” Nolan said. “The movie theatre is my home,” the director continued, “and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me.”
Warning: This video taken on a cellphone outside the suburban Denver theater where 12 people were killed this morning shows the chaos as police emptied the building.
While police first said that 14 people were killed in the shooting, they later revised their total down to 12 confirmed dead, some of them while receiving medical attention. The victims’ names have not been released, but the youngest reported victim is said to be a 3-month-old child. One of the most publicized victims is Jessica Ghawi, an aspiring journalist who was active on Twitter and had narrowly avoided another mass shooting in Toronto in June.The Daily Beast's Matthew DeLuca talked to Ghawi's friends about their loss. An estimated 50 wounded people were taken to a number of area hospitals. As of Saturday, nine of the 20 people transported to University Hospital are said to be in critical condition.
Presidential Campaign Freezes
President Obama offered his support Friday, saying: “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. As we do when confronted by moments of darkness and challenge, we must now come together as one American family. All of us must have the people of Aurora in our thoughts and prayers as they confront the loss of family, friends, and neighbors, and we must stand together with them in the challenging hours and days to come.”
Mitt Romney also issued a statement in the early morning addressing the violence: “Ann and I are deeply saddened by the news of the senseless violence that took the lives of 15 people in Colorado and injured dozens more. We are praying for the families and loved ones of the victims during this time of deep shock and immense grief. We expect that the person responsible for this terrible crime will be quickly brought to justice.”