Posted by flashpointgrafix on July 20, 2012 »
A gunman stood up during a midnight premiere of the new Batman movie, “Batman, The Dark Knight Rises” and opened fire at the Century 16 Theater at the Aurora Town Center in Aurora, CO, a Denver suburb.
Aurora Police Chief Dan Oats said there are 14 dead, 50 have been injured and 39 people have been transported to area hospitals. Four victims have been admitted to the hospital. Most of the victims were children.
During a press conference, Oats said 10 victims died on the scene and four died at area hospitals.
CNN reported that six of the victims have been taken to children’s hospitals.
The victims range in age from 6 to 31.
Police first received reports of the shooting at 12:39 a.m. MST.
One report described the shooter opening fire in theater nine as Batman appeared on the screen for the first time. Oats said witnesses said the gunman stood up, tossed a canister of some type, there was a hissing noise and then smoke filled the theater, possibly tear gas.
The suspect is described as a white male, 24, wearing body armor and a gas mask. He reportedly had both a long gun and a handgun. A third gun may have been hidden in the theater.
Aurora Police Public Information Officer Frank Fania said there is no motive known at this time and officials are unaware of how he gained entrance to the theater.
“It’s not known if he came from behind the screen or through a backdoor, but that he just appeared,” said Fania.
Police took him into custody behind the theater where his car was parked, which was not a part of the parking lot. The police station is located two to three blocks from the theater. CNN reports that the shooter’s car has Tennessee license plates. A robotic bomb squad robot was brought to the scene to investigate the vehicle.
Fania said police were grabbing victims and transporting them to the hospital in their police vehicles.
A witness told KUSA that he heard anywhere from 10 to 20 shots, then some small explosions and screaming. He said the public announcement system came on instructing everyone to get out of the theater and the fire alarm was pulled.
Police apprehended the suspect behind the theater at his car and are searching his apartment after he told officials he had explosives in it. The apartment building has been evacuated.
An explosive device was found in a theater, and there are two reports that explosives were found in the parking lot.
Witnesses in the theater were reportedly bussed away from the scene to be interviewed by police at a local high school. One eye witness said they thought it was part of the movie.
Another witness at an area hospital told CNN that she saw an infant come into the emergency room with bullet wounds.
Police are calling it “a mass tactical incident.” Officials have set up two command posts in the area: one at a Dillard’s department store and the other at Gateway High School.
The FBI has told CNN the shooting is not connected to any terrorist group.
Tracy Weise, the spokesperson for the Medical Center of Aurora, said walk-in victims to the hospital are being treated for gas inhalation. The patients are being “decontaminated,” meaning doctors are cleansing the gas from the patients eyes and skin.
Nicole Williams, a spokeswoman for the Swedish Medical Center, said on CNN that the hospital has received three victims; an 18-year-old male, a 29-year-old male and a 20-year-old female. The 18-year-old male has been treated and released, but the other two are in critical condition and have been taken into the operating room.
Williams said that the hospital is a Level 1 trauma center and because of their proximity to the shooting they are receiving patients. She also said that other hospitals are reporting walk-in patients, meaning those victims drove themselves to the hospital.
Aurora is about 20 miles from Columbine, CO, where in 1999 Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold opened fire in Columbine High School and killed 12 students and one teacher. Twenty-one others were injured.