12 Dead, At Least 59 Injured In Colorado Shooting At Batman Movie; Shooter's Apt. Was Booby-Trapped
[Updated: 7-21-12 @ 11:20am]
Aurora, CO -
At least 12 people are dead and another 59 injured after a masked gunman, 24-year-old James Eagan Holmes, opened fire at a Century 16 movie theater in Aurora Colorado, just outside Denver. Police have cautioned that final numbers may change as they learn more and begin to sort out what happened. Three of the injured were two airmen and one sailor according to the Department of Defense. 13 people remain in critical condition according to hopsital officials.
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According to reports, the gunman bought a ticket to the 12:05am premeir of the movie 'Dark Knight Rises', and shortly after the movie started, he exited the theater through an emergency exit. There, where he had parked his white car in advance, where he put on personal armor protection and armed himself with at least 3 guns. He then re-entered the theater through the emergency exit he used when he left and threw a canister that exploded. Then say police and witnesses, he began firing at his victims.
As people tried to make their way to an exit, he fired on them as well, police only began to remove the dead this evening.
One of the youngest confirmed killed in the incident is a three month old infant. 23 of the most severely injured victims were taken to the University of Colorado Hospital according to Dr. Comilla Sasson, assistant professor of emergency medicine in the School of Medicine.
As the bullets continued to be fired, at least one passed through a wall and hit a victim in another theater.
Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates.
"Witnesses tell us he released some sort of canister. They heard a hissing sound and some gas emerged and the gunman opened fire," Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said at a news conference.
FBI spokesman Jason Pack said there's no indication in the investigation so far of any connection to terrorism.
Aurora police spokesperson Frank Fania has said "A gas mask, rifle, handgun at least one additional weapon (were) found inside," he said.
Police found the suspect sitting in his car and he was taken into custody earlier this morning and Holmes told police he was "the joker", but no motive was released by police. Police said he was dressed in black and was caught near his car in the parking lot of the theater. Also found with Holmes was a throat protector, groin protector, gas mask, black tactical gloves and other personal armor protection equipment.
Used in the massacre and found with him were 2 Glock .40 caliber hand guns, one single barrel pump action Remmington shot gun and an AR-15, commonly called an assault rifle and capable of using a high capacity magazine. Police say all of them were bought legally, the first one being back in May and the last one just two weeks ago. Currently five states ban so called assault rifles, CA, NY, NJ, CT and MA.
According to investigators and other reports, Holmes had ordered his tactical protection gear online and had it shipped 2nd day air.
An unidentified victim in the shooting.
Investigators have learned that the shotgun was purchased from the Bass Pro Shops in Denver. In a statement, the sporting goods store said, "Our Denver store followed federal requirements [with] sale of 1 shotgun, 1 handgun" to Holmes."
Once police arrived at the Holmes' apartment, they discovered his home had been booby-trapped. Police described the booby-traps as "very sophisticated" and contained "flammable explosives", other gun powder and ingredients used in fireworks. Police did say he informed them of his home being booby-trapped, and that apparently was the last thing he has said and since become uncooperative.
Dozens of residents nearby have been evacuated and fire officials said they are on scene and standing by.
Aurora's police chief says the "Explosives appear 'very sophisticated' and police could be at scene 'for hours or days." Police are using a fire truck's ladder to enter Homles' third floor apartment in the 3-story brick building.
University of Colorado student I.D. picture of James Eagan Holmes.
WHO IS JAMES HOLMES
The suspect, James Holmes, moved from San Diego about a year ago to purse his PhD in the medical field. In his apartment rental application, he described himself as "quiet and easy going". FBI officials said Holmes was not on anybodies radar, and had no criminal record.
Holmes enrolled in a program in neurosciences at the University of Colorado in the fall of 2011, but withdrew last month.
University spokeswoman Jacque Montgomery confirms Holmes was a graduate student at the school of medicine until last month. On May 8, he was scheduled to present a paper on MicroRNA biomarkers for a class on psychiatric and neurological disorders.
ABC News located Holmes' mother still in San Diego and she confirmed that she was the suspect's mother, "you have the right person". She quickly ended the attempted interview by saying "I need to call the police,... I need to fly to Colorado."
James Eagan Holmes as pictures in his Westview High School yearbook in Rancho Penasquitos, California.
Andra Brown, a spokeperson with the San Diego Police Department said the suspect's family is cooperative with investigators but said the family did ask for ''your patience, indulgence and respect at this time.''
Friends of the family have said in interviews that "Jim" was a nice guy and that they never suspected he would or could do anything like this. He was also described as a bit of a loner.
Academically he excelled according to school records, but after graduating college with a nueroscience degree, he could only get a job at McDonalds. He eventually applied and was accepted to the University of Colorado to work on his PhD.
COMIC BOOK SIMILARITIES
This shooting incident has similar events as the 'Dark Knight Returns' graphic novel published in 1997 as found on page 89 in which there is a shooter in a movie theater. The final panel reads "Three slain in Batman inspired porn theater shoot out. Details to follow".
In the minutes after the shooting police started receiving hundreds of 911 calls from frantic victims and witnesses. Aurora's police cheif said several officers did not wait for ambulances and took as many as 5 victims per car and rushed them to local hospitals.
Grief counselors are being brought into Hinkley & Rangeview High Schools. Numerous witnesses are describing the incident as "cold and calculated. A source has told us the movie theater hopes to re-open tomorrow, but does not plan to use the one in which the shootings took place.
Police have said most vehicle owners can begin picking up their cars and trucks this morning.
According to FBI statistics, this is the larges shoting ramgage in American histroy. Many people are still in emotional shock reports the Denver Post, as many have been wandering the area, unwilling to leave.
James Eagan Holmes has been scheduled for his first court appearance on Monday at 9:30am.
POLITICAL ADS SUSPENDED
Both President Obama and Mitt Romney have suspended their campaign ads for today.
Speaking from the campaign trial in Florida, President Obama said he was saddened by the "horrific and tragic shooting," pledging that his administration was "committed to bringing whoever was responsible to justice, ensuring the safety of our people, and caring for those who have been wounded."
After arriving in Fort Myers, Obama said, "This morning, we woke up to news of a tragedy that reminds us of all the ways we are united as one American family.
By now many of you know, many of you have heard that a few miles outside of Denver in a town called Aurora at least 12 people were killed when a gunman opened fire in a movie theater and dozens more are being treated for injuries at a local hospital. Some of the victims are being treated at a children's hospital.
We're still gathering all the facts about what happened at Aurora but what we do know is that police have one suspect in custody and the federal government stands ready to do whatever is necessary to bring whoever is responsible for this heinous crime to justice."
President Obama called the mayor or Aurora, Colorado from his presidential limo during his ride to the airport in Florida where he was campaigning. He has ended his trip early and returned to the White House.
After leaving Fort Myers he will head back to the White House and has cancelled his stop in Winter Park, Florida at Rollins College.
Mitt Romney in remarks, asked for a moment of "unity" and described the events as an "unspeakable tragedy" during a "few moments of evil."
TFNJ has checked with several movie theaters throughout Florida and found that many in Orlando, Tampa, Miami and Jacksonville have created security lines and are inspecting people's belongings, such as purses and bags before allowing them into the building.
"It's really sad what happened, that guy's really messed up in the head, but no, um.. I still plan to see the movie this weekend," said Cynthia Roberts of Orlando.
Orange County Deputies have said costumes will be prohibited at movie theaters under their jurisdiction which are: Waterford Lakes, Soutchase/441, Pointe Orlando on International Drive, at Disney World.
Osceola County has said that "The Loop" is the only theater within it's jurisdiction and that that theater has always paid for off-duty officers.
Lake County Sheriff's Dept has they are increasing patrols at theaters within their control and encourage customers to be vigilant and to report anything suspicious.
Seminole County said they have posted off-duty deputies at both theaters within their jurisdiction, which are: AM Star Cinema in Lake Mary and the movie theater at the Ov.
Orlando Police said for those going to a theater that is within a city jurisdiction just as Orlando, Winter Park, Altamonte Springs, Ocoee etc.. should arrive early for any security screenings that may be set up.
'Dark Knight Rises' had been sold out, but theaters around the country report near empty theaters as the typically busy Friday evening began.
Paris showings of the new Batman movie 'Dark Knight Rises' have been cancelled.
Warner Bros. consdiering cancelling all showings of the Dark Knight Rises in Colorado.
Warner Bros. has cancelled a cast appearance in Mexico for the movie's launch.
President Obama orders flags to be flown at half staff until July 25.
National Association of Theatre Owners says it is 'reviewing security procedures' in movie theaters.
A new film titled "Safety Not Guaranteed" opened today, many theaters have removed it from their marquees.