July 20, 2012
In Aurora, Colorado citizens were at a theater for the showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” movie when a greatly armed gunman attacked. He tossed tear gas at the audience before opening fire on them, killing 12 and wounding 38, authorities said.
Batman fans waited for the movie to begin in the darkened theater when all of a sudden the shooting began. Chaos broke out as the black clad gunman who wore a gas mask randomly shot at the screaming moviegoers as he walked up the theater’s steps, said witnesses.
The gunman had gone to the back door of the theater and tossed a canister in before starting the shooting, according to federal law enforcement. A few people in the audience thought the thick smoke and gunfire were a special effect accompanying the movie. The smoke smelled like a Fourth of July firework, said reporter Adam Witt. After a few gunshots he figured out what was really going on.
“I hit the floor and hid behind the seats in front of me, pulling my wife down to hide with me,” Witt said. “It was the longest minute of my life. The gunshots just kept coming. I knew it could be over any second. I knew my wife could be gone any second. It was absolutely surreal. I felt something hit my left arm and my first thought was, ‘At least it’s just my arm.’”
Witt and his wife got up and began to run. He said he held his wife’s hand as they rushed out of the theater. “There was a moment where I lost her hand, but I grabbed her shirt,” he said. “We didn’t let go of each other.”
As police officers swarmed the theater they encountered bloody victims rushing out. Other victims remained inside with gruesome injuries according to the emergency calls with dispatchers.
Police officers rushed many of the wounded victims to hospitals in their patrol cars. Police first said 14 people had died but changed the death toll to 12 later Friday morning, according to Aurora Police Lt. Jad Lanigan. Several people remained in critical condition at the hospitals. The victims being treated ranged from a 3 month old to a 45 year old, the hospital said.
“I don’t know how else to explain it, it’s horrific,” said Tracy Lauzon, director of EMS and trauma services at Aurora Medical Center.
The shooter was identified by two federal law enforcement officers as 24 year old James Holmes from Aurora. Holmes had tear gas, an “AK type” rifle, a shotgun and two handguns, said a federal law enforcement official.
Police arrested Holmes shortly after the shooting had ended in the parking lot of the theater, Frank Fania, a police spokesman said. “He did not resist. He did not put up a fight,” he said.
The perpetrator is scheduled to appear in court on Monday, although no formal charges have been filed yet, according to the Colorado Office of the State Court Administrator.
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