At least 12 people are dead and 50 are wounded after a shooter opened fire in an Aurora, Colorado theater. The shooting occurred during a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises.” Witnesses report that a gunman kicked in the emergency exit of the Century Aurora 16 theater and threw in a canister believed to be tear gas before opening fire.
CNN reports that many of the movie-goers were not initially alarmed, believing the smoke and gunfire to be a part of the special effects.
“I saw a man walk in through the exit,” a witness told KUSA. “[He] looked like he had a gas mask on.”
“It was mass chaos. He was five feet away from me,” witness Jennifer Seeger told TODAY. The gunman shot the ceiling and then “he threw in the gas can, and then I knew it was real.”
Officials say that 10 victims died at the scene and others passed away at nearby hospitals and dozens are being treated for injuries. According to hospital workers, one of the injured victims was only 3 months old.
Police arrested a man believed to be the shooter in the theater parking lot. The suspect, identified as James Holmes, 24, did not resist arrest. According to NBC, Holmes allegedly had three weapons — an assault rifle and two handguns — two of which were found in his possession and one later in the theater. Ammunition was found in his car. Holmes’ apartment has been evacuated after he made statements to police that there may be explosives inside.
President Obama, alerted to the situation by counterterrorism chief John Brennan, released a statement.
“We are committed to bringing whoever was responsible to justice, ensuring the safety of our people, and caring for those who have been wounded. As we do when confronted by moments of darkness and challenge, we must now come together as one American family.”
The shooting is the worst in Colorado since the Columbine High School shooting in April 1999 when two students opened fire killing 12 and wounding 26 others before taking their own lives.
Updated 11:40 a.m.
MSNBC reports that police believe Holmes’ apartment has been booby-trapped. Police Chief Dan Oates said that officers were trying to determine how to defuse the devices described as “sophisticated explosives or flammable materials.” Police will remain on the scene “for hours or even days,” he added.
The 3- to 4-month-old baby reported injured in the attack has been released from the hospital according to MSNBC. A 6-year-old was also injured in the shooting. The oldest victim reported is 45.
Officials initially reported that 14 were killed in the shooting. That number has since been lowered to 12.
Some witnesses allege that the theater door was propped open possibly by a movie-goer who stepped out to take a phone call.