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12 dead, 59 injured in Aurora, Colo. Shooting

by Photo of Hannah Rettoun

A gunman opened fire during the midnight premier of ‘The Dark Knight Rises.’ The suspect is in police custody.

12 dead, 59 injured in Aurora, Colo. Shooting

At 12:39 am, a gunman opened fire in theater 9 of the Century 16 cinema in Aurora, Colorado, killing 12 people, injuring 59, and scarring the lives of everyone present.      

Moviegoers were watching a gunfight in the premier of the highly anticipated The Dark Knight Rises when the gunman threw a tear gas canister and started shooting. Many witnesses thought the sounds of gunfire were part of the film's special effects before they realized it was all too real. 

The "heavily armed" shooter was reported to have been wearing a gas mask and body armor, as well as carrying "an AK-type rifle," a shotgun and two handguns. Apparently he fired indiscriminately.  Witnesses say victims include a pregnant woman, a 3-month-old baby and a young girl whose body was carried out by the police. 

Theater 9 patron Chris Ramos told CNN, "With this evil, this death, it had no bounds, it had no shame. It did not care about age, it did not care about sex, it did not care about anything. Little girls were shot. Little boys were shot. Elderly people were shot. Teenagers were shot. People that were still in high school, they were shot. He did not care. Death did not care. It was all a massacre." 

Ramos said the shooter walked in through an emergency exit, threw tear gas canisters into the front and back rows, shot into the crowd for a minute or two, and walked out nonchalantly. 

Jennifer Seeger, 22, was sitting in the second row of the theater, and said she thought the gunman was "part of the entertainment" until he shot into the ceiling and pointed a rifle in her face. She dove to the ground and doesn't remember how she escaped the chaos. 

Suspected shooter James Eagen Holmes, 24, was arrested in the cinema's parking lot.  Police told CNN that "he did not put up a fight." 

Conflicting reports say Holmes had a "very sophisticated booby trap" in his apartment and that the police haven't found any bombs in that building. 

CNN reported Holmes was a neuroscience PhD candidate at the University of Colorado, but recently withdrew from the program.  He had no serious criminal record.  

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper spoke at 1:40 pm, expressing his shock and sadness for the victims of this tragedy, as well as his hope for the state's emotional recovery. 

"Obviously, there are no words that can express the intensity of this tragedy. Our hearts are broken as we think about the families and friends of the victims of this senseless tragedy," Hickenlooper said. "We need to recognize that we can't allow people that are aberrations of nature to take away the joys and freedoms that we enjoy." 

Aurora mayor Steve Hogan called the tragedy "an absolute horror" and commended the emergency responders who came to the scene. Police chief Dan Oates then gave a briefing of the massacre. Oates said they currently have no capability of calculating the number of rounds that were fired. 

"Our best available count on injuries as of right now is that 71 people were shot, and that 12 are deceased."

Oates said police are confident the shooter acted alone. 

President Obama spoke this morning at a campaign event in Florida where he held a moment of silence for the victims and their families. While Obama was there to speak about his policies, he instead focused on Colorado's tragedy, saying this was a day for prayer and reflection. "There are going to be other days for politics."

As it's very early in the investigation, more information will be forthcoming. The suspect is due in court on Monday. 

Check back at CHARGED.fm for new developments in the story.

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