UPDATE: Several sources say the death toll has increased to 15.
A masked gunman opened fire last night at the “Dark Knight Rises” midnight premiere in Aurora, Colorado, leaving 12 dead and 50 wounded. 10 people died at the theater, and 2 more died in local hospitals. CNN reports that the police apprehended the suspect in the parking lot, and he was was heavily armed and wearing a bulletproof vest. The shooter is reported to be a 24-year-old male named James Holmes.
This is a tragedy. Our hearts are with the families of all those involved.
The gunman is said to have entered the Century 16 Movie Theaters, where he proceeded to throw two canisters of gas. Members of the audience believed the event to be a stunt as part of the premiere, and remained calm until the canisters exploded with gas and he began to shoot. “He looked so calm when he did it,” one witness said. “It was, like, scary. He waited for both the bombs to explode before he did anything. Then, after both of them exploded, he began to shoot.”
Police started receiving reports of gunshots just before 12:30 a.m., right as the film was starting. By 1:15 a.m. area hospitals were preparing for a mass casualty incident. Officers ran into the building, yelling for everyone to leave.
Contrary to some reports, the shooter was not in fact dressed as the movie villain, Bane, but was rather wearing a gas mask. A police spokesman confirmed to NBC’s “Today” that the man had a gas mask in his possession when he was caught.
The victims were fired at randomly, leaving a range of infants to adults dead on the scene. It has been confirmed that University Hospital was treating a young, 3-month-old baby. The rest of the victims were ranged from 6 to 31 years old.
President Obama, released the following this morning, “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.”
Warner Bros. has released the following statement, “Warner Bros. is deeply saddened to learn about this shocking incident. We extend our sincere sympathies to the families and loved ones of the victims at this tragic time.”
This is a sad day, a tragic day, and one that will not be soon forgotten.