At a midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, CO, a six-foot-tall man dressed in riot gear entered theater 9 at the Cinemark 16. According to reports, he opened a cylinder of tear gas and then began firing into the audience at random. The horrific shooting has left 12 people dead, and dozens more injured.
According to NBC, police have taken 24-year-old James Holmes into custody. Holmes was found at the scene with a gas mask, ammunition, and three firearms — an assault rifle and two handguns — and is believed to have worn some kind of bulletproof vest. There were, however, many patrons dressed in costume and Holmes apparently did not stand out when he entered the theater.
Colorado police reportedly evacuated Holmes’ apartment after he insinuated that he may have left explosives there.
There are several eyewitness reports of the shooting, which provide some details of the horrific scene in the theater last night. One witness, Alex Milano, is quoted by local news station KUSA as saying he spoke with a woman in theater 9. Milano said:
“The witness in theatre 9 was a young woman. I had asked her if she saw anything or if anything happened. What she described, at first, I didn’t translate well because it sounded like madness to me. She said a man taller then her kicked through the door, and she said he was in a riot helmet. She said he had a bulletproof vest on. She said he was completely covered in black with guns. She said, after that point when she saw he was holding a gun, her and her boyfriend dropped to the floor and started to crawl to see if they could get away. They got up and started to run through the emergency exit. She said that when she turned around, all she saw was the guy slowly making his way up the stairs and just firing … just picking random people.”
The FBI has been involved in the investigation, and President Barack Obama has apparently been briefed on the situation. The President released a statement saying:
Michelle and I are shocked and saddened by the horrific and tragic shooting in Colorado. Federal and local law enforcement are still responding, and my Administration will do everything that we can to support the people of Aurora in this extraordinarily difficult time. We are committed to bringing whoever was responsible to justice, ensuring the safety of our people, and caring for those who have been wounded. As we do when confronted by moments of darkness and challenge, we must now come together as one American family. All of us must have the people of Aurora in our thoughts and prayers as they confront the loss of family, friends, and neighbors, and we must stand together with them in the challenging hours and days to come.