Jul 20th 2012 By: Andy Khouri
James Holmes was arrested Friday morning
in connection with the horrific shooting deaths of at least 12 people at a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises
in Aurora, Colorado, a suburb of Denver. Authorities say the 24-year-old gunman, who was wearing a mask, injured at least 50 other people. The incident is the worst of its kind in Colorado since the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School, where 12 students and a teacher were killed and 26 were injured by shots fired by teenagers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.
Holmes is reported to have released some kind of smoke or gas into the cinema, which many patrons thought was actually part of the Batman presentation, before pointing his gun at the crowd. Early reports questioned whether the suspect was meant to be costumed as Bane, the masked villain of the film, but it seems evident that Holmes was using a functional gas mask.
The Huffington Post reports
that victims are being treated for "chemical exposure" as well as gunshot wounds and possibly some form of shrapnel as well. A 3-month-old infant is among the children who were injured.
The shooter was found in his car behind Century 16 Movie Theaters, in possession of a gas mask, rifle and handgun. Holmes spoke of explosives at his home, which prompted authorities to evacuate his apartment building. The Denver Post
confirmed that police discovered booby-trapped bombs in Holmes' residence, devices which Police Chief Dan Oates characterized as "pretty sophisticated," and which could take several days to safely disarm.
There's no word of what motive Holmes may have had for committing this crime, but the FBI has indicated that the suspect is not believed to be connected to any terrorist groups.
President Obama was alerted to the situation by national security advisors, and released the following statement earlier 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., distributors of The Dark Knight Rises
and corporate parent of Batman publisher DC Comics, issued a statement of sympathy for the victims and their loved ones. Additionally, the studio has cancelled the film's red carpet premiere in Paris, France, which had been scheduled for tonight.
The following video report is the most up-to-date at the time of this writing. The Huffington Post is maintaining a live blog
of all the developments in Colorado.