Friday, July 20, 2012

At Least 12 Killed After Gunman Opens Fire in Crowded Theater in Suburban Denver

A gunman wearing a gas mask and riot gear shot moviegoers at a theater in the Denver suburb of Aurora, CO in the early morning hours on Friday.

According to eyewitness accounts the shooter forced his way through a side door about a half hour into the midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises, tossed a smoke grenade and began making his way up the aisles, shooting patrons as they attempted to flee. Some present in the theater initially thought the smoke and gunfire was part of the show or a prank before seeing the gunman moving up the aisles, shooting some people at point blank range. After running out of ammunition for his shotgun, the shooter reportedly continued shooting with a semiautomatic rifle and two pistols.

The gunman then reportedly made his way out to the parking lot where he was confronted by police and surrendered. The suspect in custody has been identified as 24 year old James Holmes. While being taken into custody, Holmes had reportedly warned officers that there were more explosives stored in his apartment. When police and federal agents went to search Holmes' apartment, they reportedly discovered explosives, ammunition and booby traps that the Aurora police chief described as "pretty sophisticated".

Earlier Friday, an ABC news reporter had erroneously identified Holmes as a member of the Colorado Tea Party. However, ABC had to walk back their comments after it was learned that the James Holmes listed on the Tea Party website was in his 50s. The University of Colorado confirmed that the Holmes in custody dropped out of their medical school back in June.

When news of the mass shooting first broke, there were numerous contradictory reports claiming that the killer was Indian, a second shooter was killed by police at the theater, or that the shooter was dressed like Bane, the antagonist from the Dark Knight Rises and the Batman comics- none of which were reportedly true. Cellphone footage showed some of the walking wounded making their way out of the front door of the Aurora Century 16 theaters with blood on their clothes. Bullets from theater 9- where the shooting started- tore through the wall and injured moviegoers in the adjacent theater 8.

President Obama and presumed GOP nominee Mitt Romney both issued brief statements regarding the mass murderers and both campaigns announced they would postpone some campaign events in the coming days.

Police and eyewitnesses say there were numerous children present in the theater at the time of the shooting and a 6 year old girl and 3 month old baby were among the wounded. In an eerie development, an aspiring sportscaster named Jessica Ghwai was among the fatalities at the Dark Knight Rises screening. In June, Ghwai- who sometimes broadcasts and blogs under the name Jessica Redfield- had a close call at Toronto's Eaton Centre when a gunman opened fire on the crowded food court on June 5th, killing 2 and wounding three. Ghwai reportedly changed her mind on where to eat at the last minute and passed up eating at the restaurant where the killings took place. Her final blog entry consisted of her further elaborating on the near miss and her reaction immediately afterwards.

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