Law enforcement officials have identified the gunman responsible for killing at least 12 people and injuring 38, many of them children, at the ‘Dark Knight Rises’ premier in Colorado’s third largest city of Aurora, as 24-year-old James Holmes.
Within hours, over 250 law enforcement officers and over 100 FBI agents responded to the tragedy. The gunman was arrested with a rifle, handgun and gasmask in his possession outside of the theater.
Witnesses reported seeing a tall, gun-wielding man clad in body armor and wearing a gas mask in the theatre. The assailant attempted to block the exits to trap the moviegoers inside. Some witnesses said the gunman managed to empty at least two clips.
One of the women attending the premiere, 25-year-old Jennifer Seeger, said Holmes was four feet away from her, pointing a gun in her face as she ducked on the ground. She also recounted the terrifying moments when empty casings were showering her, scalding her face, as the gunman emptied his clip, pausing only to reload.
Seeger said he shot anyone who tried to leave the movie theatre. The young woman also said that as she began crawling toward an exit, she saw a girl about 14 years old “lying lifeless on the stairs.”
Cell phone video taken by someone at the theater and posted on YouTube showed scores of people screaming and fleeing the building. Some had blood on their clothes.
An apartment building where Holmes lives and five buildings around it were evacuated after he told police there were explosives planted inside. So far police officers haven’t reported finding any traces of the alleged bomb, but explosives experts are continuing to work at the site.
According to CBS News, police found the suspect’s apartment ‘booby-trapped’, with lots more ammunition inside. Fire trucks were on site, and some reports suggested law enforcement agents would be entering through a window.
FBI spokesman Jason Pack said there’s no indication so far of any connection to terror groups.
The attack is the worst mass shooting in Colorado since the Columbine High School massacre of April 20, 1999. Back then, students Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, opened fire at the school in the Denver suburb of Littleton, about 15 miles west of Aurora, killing 12 classmates and a teacher and wounding 26 others before killing themselves in the school’s library.