NPR is reporting this morning that a man armed with a rifle and at least 2 hand guns entered a theater complex in a shopping mall in Aurora, Colorado. As audiences were watching the premiere of the new Batman movie, the man threw what may have been a tear-gas explosive inside one of the theaters. He then opened fire with the rifle, and at least one, possibly two handguns. Initial police reports are that he killed
14 [now 12 confirmed] people and wounded about 50 others, some critically. Police have a suspect in custody.
Eye witnesses report the man, who one witness described as dressed in kevlar and wearing a gas mask, began shooting during an “action scene ” during the movie. One witness reported he seemed “very military.” Some witnesses reported they assumed at first that the man’s presence was part of some special effects. When he started shooting, he walked up the aisle and began shooting at random. As people were shot, they soon realized the shootings and tear gas were real, and the packed audiences began to panic. As they rushed towards exits or the lobby, more were shot.
Witnesses report hearing multiple bursts, rapid fire, indicating some type of automatic weapon. While most of the shootings occurred in one theater, witnesses in adjacent theaters report bullets were coming through the walls, causing panic in the adjacent theaters.
Police tell media that the suspect mentioned something about other “explosives” possibly in his residence. So police are still searching there, as well as the the theater complex, the nearby mall and parking lot. As of 5:45 a.m. Colorado time, no further weapons or explosives have been found, and there is apparently only one suspect in custody. At this time, there are no reports from NPR indicating there may be more than one man involved.
A police update indicates that at least 12 people are now confirmed dead, not the 14 originally reported. Police also report the suspect is 24. Per NPR, his apartment is reported to be “booby-trapped,” and police are trying to decide how to deal with that.
Updated witness reports from NYT:
“We were watching a scene of the movie — it was a shootout scene, there were guns firing,” he said. “Then loud bangs came from the right of the theater. Smoke took over the entire theater, and it was really thick and no one could really see anything. Me and my sister were sitting there wondering what was going on. Five people were limping, wounded, slightly bloody.”
“I saw a girl who was pretty much covered in blood. It made me think the worst,” the man said. “A cop came walking through the front door before everyone was cleared up and before everything was completely under control holding a little girl in his arms, and she wasn’t moving.”