SAD NEWS: 12 PEOPLE DEAD 50 INJURED IN COLORADO AT “BATMAN” MOVIE PREMIERE
Sad News to report. Last night thousands rushed to local theaters to catch the midnight premiere of “Batman: The Dark Knight Rises.” But in Denver Colorado 12 victims were shot and killed by a heavily armed masked gunman. It is reported that the gunman kicked in the emergency exit in the theater and threw in a smoking canister and began opening fire on innocent victims including children. Our prayers go out to all affected. Full details and video inside.
A gas mask-wearing gunman opened fire early Friday at a suburban Denver movie theater, leaving at least 14 people dead and 50 others injured, Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said.
The violent and chaotic scene erupted about 12:30 a.m. local time as a gunman stood at the front of one of the Century 16 theaters at the Aurora Mall where the latest Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises” was playing, police said.
“Witnesses tell us he released some sort of canister. They heard a hissing sound and some gas emerged and the gunman opened fire,” Oates said at a news conference.
Police, ambulances and emergency crews swarmed on the scene after frantic calls started flooding the 911 switchboard, officials said.
Officers found the gunman near a car behind the theater.
“A gas mask, rifle, handgun at least one additional weapon (were) found inside” he said. CBS News senior correspondent John Miller reported one of the weapons was an AK-47 assault rifle.
The suspect was taken into custody, but no name was released. Oates said there’s no evidence of any other attackers. There was also no immediate word of any motive. Federal law enforcement officials are being briefed on the attack, but at this point, there is no indication it is terrorism-related, Miller reports.
The suspect spoke of “possible explosives in his residence. We are dealing with that potential threat,” Oates said. Police were at the Denver-area apartment and had evacuated other residents of the building. Oates did not say whether any explosives had been found.
He said police also checked for explosives in the parking lot and theater, and secured those areas.
The shooting occurred in Theater 9, which has a capacity of around 300 people, according to CBS station KCNC in Denver. The youngest reported victim is a 3-month-old, who is said to be doing fine at University Hospital, which is treating 20 patients, including nine in critical condition. Another victim is a six-year-old being treated at Children’s Hospital, where a total of six victims were taken. Their condition wasn’t known. Victims were rushed to six area hospitals overall.
An amateur video posted to Youtube (scroll down to see) showed people walking around outside the theater, allegedly in the moments after the incident. One man was seen wearing a shirt that appeared to be bloodstained. He was being led by a police officer. Some people could be heard shouting.
William Kent, who was in an adjacent theater, said bullets came through the wall but with the action on screen, people didn’t realize what was happening.
“And they started the fire alarm or the emergency alarm, said that there had been something that happened in the building and evacuated everybody. There was a huge commotion to get out of the theater. When I exited, there were police officers with assault rifles running in,” Kent told CBS News.
Benjamin Fernandez, who was also in an adjacent theater, said he saw a young girl, around 12 or 13 years old, laying on the concrete when he exited the building.
“From what I saw, she had two bullet wounds in her leg and just blood all over her stomach. Her friends were all just yelling, crying. … We were just all pretty much in shock,” he said on “CBS This Morning.”
Witness Hayden Miller told KUSA-TV that he was inside Theater 16 and heard several shots.
“Like little explosions going on and shortly after that we heard people screaming,” he told the station.
Hayden said at first he thought it was part of a louder movie next door. But then he saw “people hunched over leaving theater.”
Paul Otermat, who told Sky News he was in the theater when the incident occurred, said he “thought it was a publicity stunt,” when he saw a man in a long coat walk in and hurl what he believed was a tear gas canister at the crowd.
“Then he started firing shots into the crowd,” Otermat said. He says he and his girlfriend ducked to the floor and crept out as gunfire continued. “My girlfriend saw a canister on the ground that was still foaming … We ran through the lobby and we heard more shots, and we ran out into the parking lot and got into our car and left.”
The police chief said 10 victims died at the theater and four at area hospitals.
Two people in critical condition were rushed to nearby Swedish Medical Center, spokeswoman Nicole Williams said.
She said emergency crews told her staff to prepare for several more patients from the shooting scene.
“We’re on standby to receive,” she said.
Aurora is located on the southeast outskirts of Denver, about 10 miles from downtown.
President Barack Obama said in a statement that he and first lady Michelle Obama were “shocked and saddened” by the “horrific and tragic” shooting. Obama said his administration would do everything they can to support the people of Aurora, Colo.
“As we do when confronted by moments of darkness and challenge, we must now come together as one American family. All of us must have the people of Aurora in our thoughts and prayers as they confront the loss of family, friends, and neighbors,” Obama said.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said in a statement that he and his wife, Ann, were “deeply saddened by the news of the senseless violence” that led to the loss of life and injuries. He said they were praying for the families and loved ones of the victims “during this time of deep shock and immense grief. We expect that the person responsible for this terrible crime will be quickly brought to justice.”