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12 dead, 58 injured in shooting at Aurora movie theater

Published On: Jul 20 2012 02:29:27 AM CDT
Updated On: Jul 23 2012 10:11:58 AM CDT
James Holmes Aurora Shooting Suspect

James Holmes, Aurora shooting suspect

AURORA, Colo. -

Police spent Saturday inside the apartment of a suspected gunman that killed 12 people and injured at least 58 others during a midnight opening of the latest Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises."  11 people are listed in critical condition at area hospitals.

Inside James Holmes' apartment authorities found several booby traps and incendiary devices. Authorities won't go into great detail about what types of liquids  they discovered but the Chief of Police in Aurora indicated it was meant to seriously hurt or kill who ever walked in.

Police arrested the 24-year-old, while he was still wearing a gas mask, next to a white car in the parking lot behind the theater. Holmes, a PhD candidate who was in the process of withdrawing from CU-Denver's graduate program in neurosciences.

"He did not resist. He did not put up a fight," said Frank Fania, an Aurora police spokesman.

The gunman was dressed in black and was wearing full tactical gear including a ballistics helmet, a ballistics vest, a groin protector, throat protector, tactical gloves and other gear, police said. He was well armed with an AR-15 rifle, a Remington 12 gauge shotgun and a 40-caliber Glock handgun, police said. Another 40-caliber Glock handgun was found in the suspect's white Hyundai behind the theater.

ABC News reported that Holmes identified himself as the Joker when he was arrested, and that his hair had been dyed to resemble the villain played by Heath Ledger in "The Dark Knight." Police declined to comment on that detail.

According to our sister station, KMGH, Holmes legally bought the firearms at a Bass Pro Shop and Gander Mountain Guns within the last several months. The first gun was bought in May.

Investigators said they have no idea how many rounds were fired, but that it was many.

At a press conference on Friday night, the Aurora Police Chief, Dan Oates, said the first responders did a tremendous job and also added that the Aurora cops "went through a lot." 

Authorities say the gunman bought a ticket to the Batman movie, sat down for about 15 minutes, and then propped open the back door to the theater when it was dark. The gunman then went back to his car and parked it in the back of the theater, grabbed the guns and went in through the open back door.

Police said the man set off two devices with some type of irritant or smoke, then started shooting.

Moviegoers said they didn't know what was happening when they heard a hissing sound and smelled smoke. Some thought the attack was part of the movie, since it occurred during a battle scene about 20 minutes into the movie. Then they saw a silhouette of a person in the smoke at the front of the theater near the screen, pointing a gun at the crowd.

He fired first with the shotgun, emptied it and then calmly picked up the rifle and fired at the back of the movie theater.

Police confirmed that Holmes used an assault rifle, a shotgun and a 40-caliber handgun inside.

"There were bullet (casings) just falling on my head. They were burning my forehead," Jennifer Seeger said, adding that the gunman fired steadily except when he stopped to reload.

Seeger said she was in the second row, about 4 feet from the gunman, when he pointed a gun at her face. At first, "I was just a deer in headlights. I didn't know what to do," she said. Then she ducked to the ground as the gunman shot people seated behind her.

She said she began crawling toward an exit when she saw a girl about 14 years old "lying lifeless on the stairs." She saw a man with a bullet wound in his back and tried to check his pulse, but "I had to go. I was going to get shot."

Many of those injured or killed were young adults, teens or kids. The victims range in age from 3 months to 45 years old. The 3 month old has been discharged and is doing well, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Police said 911 calls started coming in 12:39 a.m. Police said officers were on scene with 60 to 90 seconds and immediately arrested the suspect.

Victims were rushed to hospitals in police cars by responding officers because there were not enough ambulances.

Ten people died in the theater, two more died at the hospital, Aurora police said.

Witnesses told 7NEWS that the gunman opened fire in Theater 9, but bullets also pierced the adjacent Theater 8 injuring moviegoers.

Witness Shayla Roeder said she saw a young teenage girl on the ground bleeding outside the theater.

"She just had this horrible look in her eyes .... We made eye contact and I could tell she was not all right," Roeder said.

The Aurora police response was swift, since police headquarters is less than a mile away from the theaters. More than 250 police officers from across the metro area -- from Brighton to Jefferson County -- were also called out to respond to the mass shooting.

The entire parking lot around the Century 16 Movie Theaters has been blocked off.

Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said there was no evidence of additional shooters.

FBI spokesman Jason Pack said there's no indication in the investigation so far of any connection to terror groups. There was no immediate word of any motive.

Just after the shooting occurred, a bulletin was issued to other police agencies throughout the metro area warning them of the possibility of similar incidences in theaters in their cities.

In Colorado Springs, various movie theaters have requested off-duty officers to monitor the theater.  Colorado Springs Police is making arrangement to assist them.  Police say they will also pay special attention to shopping centers and other places where people tend to socialize.

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