Fans have been looking forward to “The Dark Knight Rises” opening for months, but a midnight screening in Colorado took a sobering and deadly turn Thursday night (July 19) when a lone gunman burst into a movie theater in Aurora and began shooting moviegoers.
ABC News reports the suspect is James Holmes, 24, who was caught by police after the shooting. Witnesses say Holmes barged into the theater via an emergency exit and began shooting people at random as the panicked audience tried to escape. At least 12 people are dead and at least 50 injured at this time.
“You just smelled smoke and you just kept hearing it, you just heard bam
bam bam, non-stop. The gunman never had to reload. Shots just kept
going, kept going, kept going,” one witness tells ABC News.
“I’m with coworkers and we’re on the floor praying to God we don’t get
shot,” says another witness. “And the gunshots continue on and on, and when the sound finally
stopped, we started to get up and people were just bleeding.”
Police say 10 of the victims died on the scene, while dozens of others were taken to local hospitals. The gunman was wearing riot gear — a bullet-proof vest, riot helmet and gas mask, and carrying a rifle and handgun. He also threw tear gas into the theater.
President Obama says in a statement: “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.”
Investigators are now interviewing family, friends and associates of the gunman.