I will post updates throughout the day as information comes in. Updates at the end of the piece.
7/20/12: 5:19 EST: In packed theatre # 9 in Aurora, Colorado, one gunman wearing a gas mask and body armor, began shooting between 12:30 and 1:00 AM, with at least one military long gun, and two handguns, one of which he might have hidden in the theatre prior to the assault.
The first big action scene of the movie, Batman, The Dark Knight Rises, had just begun.
One report says that the gunman started outside the theatre, kicked in a side door, and threw what is believed to have been a gas canister into the theatre. As people started running, he started shooting.
Some reports said that he just stood up in theatre 9 and started shooting.
It is believed it is a random, not a targeted shooting.
There are mass deaths, several were children, primarily teenagers, but a little girl about 3 months old was shot at point blank range in the back.
The baby’s family surrounded the 3 month old infant as the seriously injured girl was being held by her mother; they were all quite distraught. [Correction: the baby was a boy named Ethan and was in his father’s arms. The child is fine.] One young witness said that image will stay with him forever as he cried.
As many as 12 people are confirmed dead inside the theatre. Others remain in the theatre It is believed that 39 of the wounded have been transported. There might be as many as 50 wounded. No one is allowed inside the theatre and the information coming out is vague.
There was chaos among the survivors and other attendees with police currently surrounding the theatre. Many of the witnesses, particularly from the theatre next door are young. Some are hysterical, some are stone-faced.
Witnesses said bullets were ripping through the walls of the neighboring theatre. They saw the gunman or gunmen in the lobby. It was originally reported that there were two gunmen, but now it is believed there was one shooter.
One gunman in his early twenties is allegedly from Aurora but might have Tennessee license plates and was taken into custody very quickly as he was running to his car. His name is James Holmes and he is 24. He said there were explosives in his home which was bobby trapped; explosives were found. The police found explosives in his car which were spotted by a witness. His mother of San Diego told the police ‘You have the right person.”
The police gang unit is at the scene, which is highly unusual in that appeared so early. There are gangs in the area as a precaution.The FBI is on the scene.
This is 13 years after Columbine.
There is a triage unit set up, some walking wounded, and 18 ambulances.
The police chief said the scene is secure and the police are searching his home.
On a police scanner, they said they were hunting a possible second shooter, an Indian male, but it is now believed that there was a single shooter.
Many of the victims are gunshot victims and their injuries range from moderate to quite severe according to the spokeswoman at an Aurora hospital. Some patients have gone to another of three other hospitals. The severely wounded are in a level 1 trauma unit, Aurora Medical Center. Two critically injured are at the Swedish Medical Center (one 18 year old had been released) and others are at the Colorado University Hospital.
There were a lot of police around because it was a highly attended showing and they were in the theatre quickly.
One witness saw people in theatre 8 wounded. Tear gas appeared to go through other theatres and a couple had severe asthma attacks. There are hundreds of witness interviews being conducted at Gateway High School.
Report by Fox News In Aurora, Colorado.
Aurora police describe the scene –
One man was asked if the gunman spoke and he said he wasn’t sure. He heard a male’s voice screaming throughout and thought it might have been the gunman.
Update: 7/20: 3:56PM:
James Holmes is a college dropout who died his black hair red so he could look like Batman’s arch enemy, the Joker. After his arrest he told the police he was “he was the Joker, enemy of Batman.”
Holmes was a recluse lived 4 miles from the theatre but comes from southern California. He refused to acknowledge greetings from neighbors and no one knew him.
There is no information as to why he dropped out of school last month where he was pursuing a Phd in neuroscience. He has a B.A. in neuroscience and is a brilliant student.
When the police entered his booby-trapped apartment, the same Techno song was playing over-and-over. He had a picture of Will Ferrell from the movie, The Anchorman, hung on his wall.
Holmes has no ties to the military or any terrorist group. Click here for the NY Daily News article.
Update: 7/21/12: 8:10:
In this video, the father of six year old child who was murdered reacts. She is the youngest murder victim –
Theatres across the nation, particularly the ones showing the Dark Knight, have extra security. My local theatre was surrounded by police. It’s not just copycats, it’s a concern that theatres now need security.
The killer’s apartment is so heavily rigged with explosives that the experts might have to use counter explosives. One police explosives expert was able to get in a window and step into his apartment to look around. Apparently, every area of the apartment was rigged. They are in no hurry to get in because they want to preserve evidence. It is obvious that Holmes wanted to take out others perhaps his neighbors.
Holmes had been playing Techno music loudly that night and at least one neighbor knocked on the door and noticed it was open. If they or anyone had gone in, they would have been blown up.
Jessica Ghawi Redfield is one of the victims of the tragedy. Last month she escaped a shopping mall shooting in Toronto when she had a sickening feeling and left. Soon after she left, seven were killed by a shooter. This time she did not escape.
Jessica Ghawi once interned at Fox and she loved journalism. Her last words as anyone knows were in a text to a former editor and news writer.
As Ghawi sat in Colorado’s Century Aurora 16 Movie Theater, there to see a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises,” she read a Spector tweet intimating he would be waiting at least one more day to see the highly anticipated Batman flick.
“You aren’t seeing it tonight?!” she typed.
“Nope,” Spector said.
“psh. Loser!” she jabbed.
“Which is why you’re tweeting now and not at the movie?” Spector joked. [Daily News]
Holmes bought a ticket for the show and sat in the first row. At some point after the previews, he went outside through the emergency exit behind the screen. He then came back through the same door completely dressed in combat gear, threw in a gas canister and started shooting. It took minutes to kill 12 and would 71. He did not resist the police when he reached his car. At first the police thought he was with the police because of his attire.
Holmes told the police that his apartment was rigged but stopped cooperating when his lawyer arrived.
Holmes mother did say that she told the police “You have the right person.” She has not flown in from California but her husband is in Colorado.
The Holmes’ family statement.
“Our hearts go out to those who were involved in this tragedy and to the families and friends of those involved. We ask that the media respect our privacy during this difficult time Our family is cooperating with authorities in both San Diego, California, and Aurora, Colorado. We are still trying to process this information and we appreciate that people will respect our privacy.”
Holmes is not cooperating.
Update: 7/22/12: [Boston Globe].
The police cleared the killer’s apartment of explosives today without anyone sustaining injuries. He had been planning this attack for months according to the police who said he acted with “calculation and deliberation.”
His apartment was rigged with jars of liquids, explosives and chemicals that were booby trapped to kill “whoever entered it,” Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said, noting it would have likely been one of his officers.
Holmes received several mail deliveries over four months to his home and school and bought thousands rounds of ammunition on the Internet.