At a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado last night, a man entered through the emergency exit, threw a tear gas canister into the crowded theater and then opened fire on the crowd. In total, 12 people were killed and 36 were injured.
Police arrested a man believed to be the shooter in a rear parking lot of the theater, Frank Fania, a police spokesman, told CNN.
“He did not resist. He did not put up a fight,” Fania said. Police seized a rifle and a handgun from the suspect, and another gun was found in the theater, he said.
Two federal law enforcement sources involved in the investigation identified the suspect as James Holmes, 24, of Aurora, Colorado.
Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said there was no evidence of a second gunman, and FBI spokesman Jason Pack said it did not appear the incident was related to terrorism. President Barack Obama said he and first lady Michelle Obama were “shocked and saddened” by the shooting and pledged the administration’s support for victims of the shooting. “As we do when confronted by moments of darkness and challenge, we must now come together as one American family,” Obama said.
Chaos broke out during the showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” at the Century Aurora 16 theater when the shooting began, police and witnesses said. Police said the gunman appeared in the front of the theater and threw a smoke bomb before opening fire. A federal law enforcement official told CNN the smoke bomb described by witnesses was tear gas.
It was unclear how the man got into the theater, but witnesses told CNN affiliate KUSA that he came in through an emergency door.
One movie-goer, who was not identified, told KUSA the gunman was wearing a gas mask.
Some people in the audience thought the thick smoke and gunfire was a special effect accompanying the movie, police and witnesses said.
The smoke smelled like a Fourth of July firework, said CNN iReporter Adam Witt. It took a few gunshots before he figured out what was going on.
“There were so many people running,” he said. “I didn’t look back. I just remember getting up from the floor and shouting, ‘We have to run.’”
Witt 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.”
Quentin Caldwell, who was attending a screening in the adjacent theater, said he wasn’t sure at first what was going on, despite hearing a “pop, pop, pop, pop” sound.
“We really didn’t know something was happening until someone came from the left entrance and said we should not go outside because somebody with a gun was out there,” he said.
Also, Reddit has an ongoing thread of ground-level news as it develops in Aurora
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