Details are coming in about a horrific shooting at the Century Theater in Aurora, Colorado.
A figure in a gas mask set off tear gas bombs about 15 minutes into a midnight showing of The Dark Knight before opening fire on the crowd watching the movie.
Police have told reporters that 12 people have died and 59 more were injured in the attack. 71 in total were shot, making it the largest mass shooting in U.S. history by casualties.
This death toll has been revised down from earlier statements about 14 dead, made at a press conference from local Police Chief Dan Oates at 5:15 AM ET this morning.
In a midday press conference, Oates named 24 year-old white male James Eagan Holmes as the sole suspect in the case. Police apprehended Holmes in the parking lot of the movie theater. 9News in Denver reports that the subject did not fight the arrest. Holmes has no criminal history beyond a single traffic violation.
Oates said that police are “confident” that Holmes acted alone, and said that they are no longer exploring the possibility that he acted in concert with an accomplice.
Oates also said that the shooter made statements to police about explosives at his apartment and car after being taken into custody. According to 9NEWS, a bomb robot found suspicious materials in his car.
Police have evacuated the suspect’s apartment building at East 17th Street and Peoria in Aurora, which remains surrounded by police. A representative for the FBI told reporters that the apartment is booby-trapped with explosive or flammable materials. They did not know how long it would take to secure the area, which includes five evacuated buildings.
The police chief called Holmes’s apartment a “difficult scene.” “We don’t know how we’re going to handle that,” Oates said, saying that the time frame for securing the location could take hours or could take days.
“It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen,” he said.
University of Colorado—Denver police have evacuated two research buildings the suspect once worked in, according to CBS Denver.
This aerial shot appears to show police entering the suspect’s apartment building.
Witnesses say the perpetrator, allegedly wearing a bullet-proof vest, goggles, and a gas mask, entered Theater #9 through a fire exit. He opened fire after blinding theater-goers with tear gas. 9 News reports that victims in Theater #8 were also hit by bullets coming through the wall. A witness also told reporters on the scene that the shooter eventually entered other theaters after they had been evacuated, in an attempt to shoot stragglers as those rooms were evacuated.
Some aspects of the shooting have an uncanny resemblance to Frank Miller’s 1986 “The Dark Knight Rises.”
A handful of theater-goers remarked that Holmes appeared and even called himself the “Joker,” a character in the Batman saga. Journalists have also pointed out that the shooting bears an uncanny resemblance to Frank Miller’s graphic novel “The Dark Knight Rises.”
We’ve seen two disturbing, graphic amateur videos so far that were taken during or in the direct aftermath of the tragedy. One shows theater-goers fleeing the movie theater, first at a walk and then at a run. The second shows victims being carried through the parking lot away from the site of the attack.
The youngest person hospitalized that news channels identified was a 3 month-old, who was taken to University Hospital. According to 9News, the infant was not injured, and taken to the hospital as a precaution. A 6 year-old was also taken to the local children’s hospital.
Most of the victims that have been transferred to hospitals have been treated for gunshot wounds, though a few have also been treated for chemical exposure. The latter injuries are generally thought by the media to have been caused by the tear gas. One victim posted images of his injuries to Reddit >
The Century Theater in Aurora was not known as a particularly safe theater, according to witnesses interviewed by correspondents at 9NEWS. While witnesses speculated that this “feels like” a terrorist attack in TV interviews, police have said that the alleged gunman has no known connections to terrorist groups or activities.
Multiple news outlets are reporting that this is a picture of James Holmes.
The shooter fired from an assault-type AR-15 rifle, a model 870 pump shotgun, and at least one of two 0.40-caliber Glocks police found at the scene. He was also carrying a knife. CNN reports that Holmes obtained all these guns legally. He was driving a car with Tennessee plates, but had been living in the Aurora area recently. Two more weapons—a shotgun and a pistol—were allegedly stored in his car. Here’s what we know about the equipment carried by the gunman >
Before police had confirmed the identity of the suspected gunman, ABC got in touch with Holmes’s mother. In a conversation with journalists she said, “You have the right person…I need to call the police…I need to fly out to Colorado,” before ending the conversation.
Later, San Diego police showed up outside her house. “We’re only here to preserve the peace, we’re not here to conduct and investigation or do anything else,” said Lt. Andrea Brown of the San Diego police. She said their tasks included keeping the street open and making sure journalists did not disturb the residents.
According to the Associated Press, the University of Colorado Medical School said that the suspect had been a student there. He withdrew last month. He appears to have taken a course titled the Biological Basis of Psychiatric and Neurological Disorders (via @BuzzFeedAndrew).
The Associated Press reported at 4:20 PM EDT that Holmes is not cooperating with police officials, despite appearing to to go quietly with police directly after the shooting and reveal the presence of explosives in his car and apartment.
Holmes’s first court appearance will take place on Monday, according to 9NEWS. The next press conference with police will be held at 9 PM EDT.
Both President Barack Obama and presidential candidate Mitt Romney have released statements on the incident, expressing sympathy and sadness. Both men gave press conferences about the incident.
Warner Brothers has also extended its “sincere sympathies to the families and the loved ones of the victims” of the attack, and has cancelled the Paris premiere of The Dark Knight Rises in the wake of the shooting.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg told WOR radio this morning that the incident should prompt candidates to come clear about their stance on gun policy.
Pundits have already expressed concerns that the tragic social realities of the shooting will be overshadowed by the political debates it generates, particularly in an election year.
We’re updating this story live as it develops.