Real-Life Horror: Many Killed, Dozens Wounded At Colorado Movie Theater
July 20, 2012
by Mark Memmott - NPR
— One suspect is in custody. Federal law enforcement sources with knowledge of the investigation told NPR that his name is James Holmes. The Denver Post says he "described himself in an apartment rental application last year as a student who was 'quiet and easy going.' " He's due in court on Monday.
— President Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney each set aside their campaigns and urged Americans reach out to each other in this time of mourning. "Evil is overcome," said Romney, with "the goodness and compassion of a wounded community." The nation needs to embrace the victims, said the president, "and let them know we will be there for them as a nation."
A midnight screening of the new Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises turned into a horribly real scene of death and destruction in Aurora, Colo., early Friday when a gunman opened fire on the audience.
The initial report from Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates was that at least 14 people were killed and another 50 or so had been wounded. Later, police said there were 12 fatalities. A suspect, who federal law enforcement officials say is a 24-year man named James Holmes, was arrested shortly after the rampage. He's thought to have acted alone. Fearing that the gunman's apartment may be rigged with explosive booby traps, authorities evacuated the nearby area.
The Denver Post writes that:
"A witness, Benjamin Fernandez, 30, said he was watching the movie when he heard a series of explosions. He said that people ran from the theater and there were gunshots as police shouted 'get down!'
"Fernandez said he saw people falling, including one young girl."
We'll be following this story as the day continues. Click "refresh" to be sure you're seeing our latest updates.
Update at 12:50 p.m. ET. After This "Hateful Act," Romney Says This Is Time To Reflect On "How Much We Love One Another:"
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney just said at an event in Bow, N.H., that "our hearts break with the sadness of this unspeakable tragedy. ... Ann and I join the president and first lady and all Americans in offering our deepest condolences" to the victims and their families.
After such a "hateful act," Romney said, it's important to reflect on "how much we love one another and how much we love and care for our great country."
"Evil is overcome," said Romney, with "the goodness and compassion of a wounded community." We will all, he said, "hold our kids a little closer" after this tragedy. And he urged Americans to "offer comfort to someone near us who is suffering or mourning."
Update at 12:30 p.m. ET. Photo Of James Holmes:
The University of Colorado Denver / Anschutz Medical Campus has released a statement confirming that Holmes enrolled at the school in June 2011 and "was in the process of withdrawing from the University of Colorado Denver's graduate program in neurosciences." It also released a photo of Holmes.
The photo of James Holmes released by the University of Colorado Denver.
University of Colorado Denver
The photo of James Holmes released by the University of Colorado Denver.
Update at 11:55 a.m. ET. Witness Accounts On The Web:
The Atlantic runs through the way some witnesses and victims used Twitter, Reddit and other platforms to get the story out — including photos of what they say are their own injuries. The links take you to some graphic images and compelling tales. And on Reddit, by the way, there are some "comprehensive timelines" of the Aurora news. There are some valuable links sprinkled through them.
Update at 11:40 a.m. ET. Military Personnel Among Victims:
"Some members of the military were either killed or wounded" in the shooting, Pentagon spokesman George Little says, according to the AP. It isn't clear yet how many.
Update at 11:30 a.m. ET. School Says Holmes Was A Med Student Until Recently; His Family :
The Associated Press is reporting that "the suspect in a mass shooting at a Colorado movie theater dropped out of medical school last month. Spokeswoman Jacque Montgomery says 24-year-old James Holmes was a student at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver until last month. She did not know when he started school or why he withdrew."
Meanwhile, San Diego's Fox5-TV says Holmes family, which lives in the San Diego area, has issued a statement saying their hearts go out to the victims. The station is live-streaming its coverage here.
Update at 11:20 a.m. ET. Suspect Due In Court On Monday:
"9NEWS has confirmed Holmes is scheduled to appear in court to face charges Monday afternoon," Denver's KUSA-TV reports.
Update at 11 a.m. ET. "Pretty Sophisticated" Explosive Devices Found At Suspect's Apartment, Police Say:
While CNN reported earlier that no explosives had been found at Holmes' apartment, The Denver Post now writes that:
"Police say that the apartment of the suspect ... appears to be booby trapped. [Aurora] Police Chief Dan Oates said the explosive devices were 'pretty sophisticated.'
" 'We could be here for days,' he said."
Update at 10:45 a.m. ET. Obama Says Tragedy Reminds Us "We Are United:"
Speaking in Florida moments ago, President Obama said "this morning, we woke up to news of a tragedy that reminds us of all the ways that we are united as one American family."
Location of the shootings.
"Such violence, such evil is senseless," he added. But the tragedy, he said, reminds us that what's important is "how we treat one another and how we love one another." The president noted this his daughters go to the movies. He and the first lady will "hug our girls a little tighter tonight," Obama said, and the nation needs to embrace the victims "and let them know we will be there for them as a nation." Today, Obama said, is not a day for politics.
Update at 10:40 a.m. ET. "Quiet And Easy Going":
According to The Denver Post Holmes "described himself in an apartment rental application last year as a student who was 'quiet and easy going.' "
Update at 10:25 a.m. ET. CNN Says No Explosives Were Found At Suspect's Apartment:
According to its sources, CNN says, authorities have found no explosives at the suspect's apartment. The Denver Post isn't reporting that development yet, however.
Update at 9:20 a.m. ET. Obama Cancels Event In Florida; Will Speak About Shootings:
The White House says President Obama has canceled a campaign event planned for this afternoon in Winter Park, Fla., and that later this morning he will "address the tragedy in Aurora." Then, the president will return to the White House from Florida.
Update at 8:50 a.m. ET. Suspect Named:
Two federal law enforcement sources with knowledge of the investigation have told NPR's Carrie Johnson that the suspect's name is James Holmes. The Associated Press said it has been told by sources that he is "a 24-year-old white American."
Update at 8:35 a.m. ET. Raw Video From Outside The Theaters:
The Denver Post has a short video clip of the scene outside the theaters shortly after the shooting.
Update at 8:25 a.m. ET. Numbers Revised; 12 "Confirmed Dead;" About 38 Injured:
As often happens in the early hours of a tragedy such as this, the news is changing. Aurora police just released a statement saying that there were "approximately 50 victims, with at least 12 confirmed dead." The statement adds that police "arrested one party at the rear of the theater."
Update at 8:10 a.m. ET. Four Weapons Reportedly Recovered:
NPR's Carrie Johnson tells our Newscast Desk that federal law enforcement officials say a rifle, a shotgun and two handguns were recovered at the movie theater. She also reports that officials say the suspect's apartment "appears to be booby trapped." Explosives experts are on the scene.
Update at 8 a.m. ET. Youngest Person Injured Is 3-Months-Old.
According to the AP: "At least 48 people are being treated at Denver area hospitals after a mass shooting a movie theater — the youngest a 3-month-old baby."
Update at 7:50 a.m. ET. Witness: "Thank God I Wasn't On The Right Side."
Chayyiel Jackson of Aurora told Morning Edition that he was up front, on the left side of the theater, when the gunman came in from an exit door on the right side. The man, clad all in black, threw some sort of gas canister and then began firing.
Steve Inskeep speaks with witness Chayyiel Jackson
At first he thought it might be a stunt. Then Jackson saw the flashes of gunfire. "I just ducked down and ran out," he said. "Thank God I wasn't on the right side."
Update at 7:40 a.m. ET. FBI Says There's No Sign Of Connection To Terrorism.
The AP just moved this alert:
"FBI: No indication in Colo. shooting probe so far of any connection to terrorism."
Update at 7:35 a.m. ET. Suspected Hinted That He'd Left Bombs Elsewhere:
Ben Markus of Colorado Public Radio tells our Newscast Desk that it's being reported that the suspect "hinted to officers that there may be an explosive device in his apartment or the parking lot of the mall."
Update at 7:20 a.m. ET. "He Looked So Calm When He Did It":
KUSA-TV has posted a video interview with two young men who describe what they say they saw inside the theater. "He looked so calm when he did it," one of the young men, identified as Trey Freeman, says of the shooter.
They say the shooter said nothing as he began firing. He was wearing all black, including some kind of mask.
Update at 7:15 a.m. ET. News Briefing Set For 1 P.M. ET:
Aurora police have scheduled a news briefing for 11 a.m. MT. That's 1 p.m. ET.
Update at 7:10 a.m. ET. "I Thought It Was Pretty Much The End Of The World":
The shooting happened in Theater 9 — one of 16 screens at the movie complex and one of three that was showing Dark Knight Rises. Robert Jones, 28, told the Post that he was in Theater 9.
"Jones said when he first saw smoke billowing from the front of the theater, he thought it was a special effect. Shots rang out almost immediately after.
" 'I thought it was pretty much the end of the world,' Roberts said."
Update at 7:05 a.m. ET. Live Coverage From Denver:
KUSA-TV is streaming its coverage here.