A masked gunman in Aurora, Colorado opened fire on movie-goers attending the 12.30am showing of Christopher Nolan’s eagerly anticipated ‘The Dark Knight Rises.’ Authorities have confirmed that 14 people were killed and at least 50 others were injured by the gunfire.
Police also discovered an explosive device in the movie theater although they do not yet know if it was planted prior to the attack or if the gunman had tossed it into the crowd during the commotion.
The terrible incident took place at the Century 16 Movie Theaters at Aurora Town Center in the Denver suburb, but police have apprehended the man they believe to be responsible for the attack.
Witnesses at the movie theater said that a tall man wearing a gas mask appeared at the front of the theater with a handgun and a rifle. They claim that he threw down a canister that released some form of gas and said that they could hear a hissing sound. Many movie-goers initially believed the strange occurrences were somehow part of the film, however when the man opened fire on the crowd, they soon realized that this was not the case.
After releasing the gas, the witness reports state that the man then opened fire into the crowded movie theater. Panic ensued as people got up and started running for the emergency exits, at which point the assailant made his way slowly up the stairs firing shots at random people.
The adjacent movie theater was also screening ‘The Dark Knight’ and the audience in that theater were unaware of the tragic events taking place next door until the alarms started ringing. One witness told ABC News that the incident occurred as one of the action scenes kicked in. The witness named only as Jack explained that despite the fact that some people ran in claiming that there was a shooting happening, initially he believed them to be mistaken, thinking that they had heard “fireworks” or something.
Ambulances rushed to the scene to treat the wounded, but many police ushered the injured to hospitals in their vehicles in an attempt to save as many lives as possible. The identities of those killed in the attack have not yet been released and Aurora’s police chief said he was still unable to release the ages, or gender of those who lost their lives in the horrific attack.
Police apprehended the masked gunman in the movie theater car park, the 24-year-old man then told authorities that he had explosives at his home in North Aurora. Police and bomb disposal experts rushed to the apartment complex and evacuated the building; they have confirmed that they did find explosive in the residence. It is currently under lockdown.
Aurora authorities have stated that they believe the gunman was acting alone and that he does not appear to be linked to any kind of terrorist organization but despite this belief they are taking every precaution and thoroughly checking all the vehicles in the movie theater parking lot and nearby areas. They are currently conducting a thorough investigation into the assailant’s past in an attempt to discover why he would carry out such a brutal unprovoked attack.
President Obama released this statement Friday 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.”
Presidential candidate Mitt Romney also released the following statement:
Ann and I are deeply saddened by the news of the senseless violence that took the lives of 15 people in Colorado and injured dozens more. We are praying for the families and loved ones of the victims during this time of deep shock and immense grief. We expect that the person responsible for this terrible crime will be quickly brought to justice.
Below are some of the videos on the Aurora, Colorado Batman shooting we have collected so far:
How story of the Batman: The Dark Knight Rises shooting spread, via Poynter: