Colorado Shooting at 'The Dark Knight Rises' Echoes Columbine High School Massacre; Aurora Horror Left 12 People Dead (Video)
Twelve people died after a gunman opened fire at a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" in Aurora, Colorado Friday around 12:30 a.m.
Witnesses described him kicking open the back door of the Century Aurora 16 theater and opening fire with four weapons, one AK-type assault rifle, a shotgun and two handguns, according to CNN. Wearing a bulletproof vest and goggles, he stood at the front of the theater, tossed tear gas into the crowd and starting randomly shooting.
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Ten of the victims died on the scene, while at least two more died later at area hospitals. It was previously reported that 14 people died, but CNN downgraded that number.
The shooting is not so far from the Columbine High School massacre that happened on April 20, 1999. Students Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, opened fire at the school in the Denver suburb of Littleton, about 25 miles from Aurora, according to the Associated Press. The shooting killed 12 classmates and a teacher and wounded 26 others before the gunmen killed themselves in the school's library.
Heavily armed, Harris and Klebold roamed the school firing indiscriminately. The Columbine shootings left America in shock and led to demands for tighter gun controls.
Police told CNN that they arrested a man believed to be the shooter in a rear parking lot of the Aurora Century 16 theater. New York Daily News said that police identified the suspect as James Holmes, who was in custody.
"He did not resist. He did not put up a fight," officials said. Police seized a rifle and a handgun from the suspect, and another gun was found in the theater, he said. Officials later searched his nearby apartment after indications that there may have been explosives stored there, according to CNN.
At least 20 were being treated at the University of Colorado Hospital, reported CNN. All of the wounded suffered from gunshot wounds, which ranged from minor to critical. The New York Daily News reported that the youngest victim was believed to be a three-month old infant, who was in fair condition, and a 6-year-old child was rushed to the hospital was a bullet wound.
A San Diego woman who identified herself as James Holmes' mother said she had no information about the shooting.
"You have the right person," the woman told ABC News. "I need to call the police. I need to fly out to Colorado."
Huffington Post reported that a press conference which was set to feature main cast members Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Morgan Freeman and director Christopher Nolan was called off following the shooting. Friday night's red carpet premiere of "The Dark Knight Rises" in Paris was also tabled.
"Warner Bros. is deeply saddened to learn about this shocking incident," the studio behind "The Dark Knight Rises" said in a statement on Friday morning. "We extend our sincere sympathies to the families and loved ones of the victims at this tragic time."
Christopher Ramos, 20, said the theater erupted in chaos after the gunman threw a gas canister.
"People started screaming," Ramos told the Daily News. "I grabbed my sister. He kept shooting and shooting."
According to Newsday, Salina Jordan told the Denver Post that some police were carrying and dragging bodies. She said one girl was struck in cheek, others in stomach including a girl who looked to be around 9-years-old.
Jordan said it sounded like firecrackers until someone ran into Theater 8 yelling "they're shooting out here!"
Benjamin Fernandez, 30, told the Post that he heard a series of explosions. He said that people ran from the theater and there were gunshots as police shouted "get down!" He said he saw people falling, including one young girl.
According to Newsday, President Barack Obama said he was saddened by the "horrific and tragic shooting," pledging that his administration was "committed to bringing whoever was responsible to justice, ensuring the safety of our people, and caring for those who have been wounded."