When the smoke
began to spread, some moviegoers thought it was a stunt that was part of
the “The Dark Knight Rises,” one of the most highly anticipated films
of the summer. They saw a silhouette of a person in the haze near the
screen, pointing a gun at the crowd and then shooting.
bullet (casings) just falling on my head. They were burning my
forehead,” Jennifer Seeger said, adding that the gunman, dressed like a
SWAT team member, fired steadily, stopping only to reload.
few seconds it was just: Boom, boom, boom,” she said. “He would reload
and shoot and anyone who would try to leave would just get killed.”
suspect was taken into custody near a car behind the theater and was
identified by federal law enforcement officials as 24-year-old James
Holmes was studying neuroscience in a Ph.D. program at the
University of Colorado-Denver, university spokeswoman Jacque Montgomery
said. Holmes enrolled a year ago and was in the process of withdrawing
at the time of the shootings, Montgomery said.
Authorities gave no motive for the attack. The FBI said there was no indication of ties to any terrorist groups.
had an assault rifle, a shotgun and two pistols, a federal law
enforcement official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity
because the investigation was still unfolding.
FBI agents and
police used a hook and ladder fire truck to reach Holmes’ apartment in
Aurora, police Chief Dan Oates said. They put a camera at the end of a
12-foot pole inside the apartment and discovered the unit was
booby-trapped. Authorities evacuated five buildings as they tried to
figure how to disarm the flammable and explosive material.
least 24 people were being treated at Denver-area hospitals, some of
them for chemical exposure apparently related to canisters thrown by the
gunman. Some of those hurt were children, including a 4-month-old baby,
who was treated a hospital and released.
Police released a
statement from Holmes’ family: “Our hearts go out to those who were
involved in this tragedy and to the families and friends of those
Barack 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.”
It was the worst mass
shooting in the U.S. since the Nov. 5, 2009, attack at Fort Hood,
Texas. An Army psychiatrist was charged with killing 13 soldiers and
civilians and wounding more than two dozen others.
In Colorado, it
was the deadliest since the Columbine High School massacre on April 20,
1999, when two students opened fire in the Denver suburb of Littleton,
killing 12 classmates and a teacher and wounding 26 others before
killing themselves. Columbine High is about 12 miles from the theater.
– The Associated Press