6:16am

Fri July 20, 2012
The Aurora Theater Shootings

Theater Shooting: Friday Live Blog

A gunman opened fire at 12:30 this morning at a multiplex theater in Aurora, a Denver suburb on the opening night of the latest Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises, killing 12 people and injuring at least 50 others.

Friday's coverage of events concluded with the evening press briefing. Our story, including video of the press briefing can be found here.

Update 4:44pm

Kirk Siegler filed a report with All Things Considered this afternoon with a profile of the suspect, James Holmes. 

Kirk Siegler on All Things Considered

Update 2:48pm

Ivan Moreno of the AP tweeted that the suspect, James Holmes, is not cooperating with authorities. This is attributed to an AP source.

The AP story goes on further to delve into the background of Holmes including his graduation from University of California, Riverside and his withdrawal from the University of Colorado-Denver School of Medicine.

Update 2:38pm

The Two-Way has a chilling summary of the dispatch tapes from the shooting. Radio chatter can be heard in the video posted earlier from PBS News Hour, but more of the audio is now available. From the post:

"I got people running out of the theater that are shot," one officer says.

Another one requests gas masks. A shooter might still be inside theater 9, one officer says. But the auditorium is filled with gas and the offficers need gas masks.

The requests to the dispatcher are calm and dispatcher just repeats the requests.

Can anyone get gas masks to theater 9, she asks.

In between, you can hear sirens, you can hear heavy breathing, you can sometimes hear the stress of the situation in the voice of the officers.

"Get us some damn gas masks for the theater now," one officer says. "We can't get in."

Update 1:40pm

Both Governor Hickenlooper and President Barack Obama have ordered flags lowered to half-staff. The President's order is nationwide and is a mark of respect for the victims of the shooting.

The Governor's order applies to all public buildings statewide and is until further notice.

Update 1:30pm

Governor Hickenlooper spoke earlier this afternoon. Here is audio of his remarks:

Governor Hickenlooper's remarks on the Aurora Theater Shooting

Update 1:21pm

The AP is reporting that a witness tried to keep a door closed on the suspect. The witness, identified as Eric Hunter attempted to exit the theater through the door and encountered to girls, one wounded. As he was closing the door he saw the shooter approaching. From the AP

Hunter says he held the door closed and the gunman banged on it for about 10 seconds.

Afraid that the shooter would start firing through the door, Hunter says he let it go and managed to get out of the theater.

Update 12:52pm

We've posted a copy to download [.pdf] of the President's proclamation honoring the victims in the Aurora Theater Shooting.

If you missed it earlier, we also have posted video of Mitt Romney's remarks from New Hampshire today in regards to the shooting.

Update 12:43pm

The Denver Post has a timeline of the events surrounding the Aurora Theater Shooting. As noted in previous updates, police received their first calls at 12:39am and responded within a minute/minute and a half.

Update 12:36pm

The law enforcement effort surrounding the investigation is led by the Aurora Police Department with a 'tightly integrated effort' from the FBI and the ATF. There are 100 FBI personnel on scene. At this point authorities do not see any links with terrorism.

Update 12:27pm

The suspect's gear was described in detail at the press briefing. The suspect was dressed all in black, including a helmet, gas mask, tactical vest and black gloves.

The suspect's apartment is booby trapped with many incendiary devices and trip wires. "Something I've never seen" according to Chief Dan Oates, they don't have a timeline and an expectation that they may be there for some time. Currently 5 buildings are evacuated around the apartment.

Update 12:08pm

From the press briefing:

Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates related the following items in regard to the shooting:

  • The suspect was identified as James Eagan Holmes, DOB 12/13/87
  • the 1st 911 calls came in at 12:39am and it was characterized as "hundreds of calls"
  • Officers responded on scene within a "minute or minute and a half" and the suspect was apprehended by arriving officers. The suspect surrendered to officers.
  • 71 people were shot at the theater. 12 are dead; 2 died at the hospital and 10 died on scene
  • The weapons that the suspect had: AR15 assault rifle, Remington 870 shotgun and two .40 cal Glock pistols. One of the Glocks was in the suspect's car.
  • There is no estimation of rounds fire, it was characterized as "many, many rounds fired"
  • 2 devices were set off to distract the crowd, described as an irritant and smoke
  • The suspect's white Hyundai was parked out back of the theater

Update 11:35am

We've posted video and a transcript of the President's remarks here.

Update 11:11am

We just received this update from Sandra Fish & Katharina Bucholz from the CU Journalism News Service. They are on site in Aurora near the suspect's apartment:

At 11 am today, Aurora police are still securing a city block at Peoria St. and 17th Ave., where the suspect in the Aurora cinema shooting, James Holmes, was living. The Denver Police bomb squad is present and personnel can be seen operating a cherry picker accessing the roof of what appears to be the suspect's apartment complex. Deputy Fire Chief Chris Henderson said that his unit was preparing to send in a robot to check for explosives on the site.

Update 10:46am

Vice President Joe Biden released this statement:

Jill and I were shocked to learn of the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado this morning. The reason this is so deeply felt by all Americans is that, but for the grace of God, the victims could have been any one of our children, in any one of our towns. It is every parent’s worst nightmare to receive ‘that phone call’ and to sit by their child’s bedside, praying. We know what it’s like to wait and wonder and the helplessness a parent feels at this moment. Our hearts go out to each and every person who is suffering right now as a result of this terrible event. The prayers of an entire nation are with the victims and their families. We stand with the city of Aurora and the state of Colorado in mourning.

Update 10:25am

Here is the full audio of the President's remarks:

Update 10:12am

Congressman Ed Perlmutter has made a statement on the shootings:

"I am stunned and furious at the news of the shooting at the Aurora Century 16 Movie theatre this morning. Our heart and prayers are with the families and loved ones of the victims of this tragedy. Colorado is not a violent place, but we have some violent people. I want to thank local law enforcement and the first responders who continue to be on the scene responding to and investigating this tragedy.  We are a strong and resilient community, and we will lean on each other in the days, weeks and months to come."

Update 10:09am

The Two-Way has a look at the suspect, 24-year-old James Holmes, at this post.

Update 9:56am via Grace Hood on Twitter

Update 9:42am

PBS News Hour has posted this video from the Aurora shooting with images, video from the scene, and police scanner audio:

Update 9:34am

The AP is reporting that the suspect, who was identified as James Holmes, recently withdrew from the University of Colorado School of Medicine. A spokesperson for the School of Medicine confirmed he withdrew last month and they do knot know the reason for his leaving.

Update 9:19am

Reddit continues to be a unique source of information surrounding the shooting in Aurora. There are two commentary threads from two individuals who claim to have been in the theater. One starts their thread off with "Who here on Reddit can help me calm my nerves?"

The other thread included a picture posted from the user who was injured in the shooting, which we linked to earlier (caution graphic content). 

Update 9:10am

From Reporter Nathan Heffel:

President Obama, speaking at a previously scheduled campaign rally in Ft. Meyers Florida reacted to the shootings in Aurora saying “We must not come together as an American family.” The President reached out to local officials, including Governor Hickenlooper who reports say was called from the president’s motorcade. 

The president cut his rally in Florida short, saying “There are going to be other days for politics, this is a day for prayer and reflection.”

Both the Obama and Romney campaign have announced they are suspending their political campaign ads in the state until further notice. According to Ely Stokls of Fox 31 news in Denver says the Obama campaign is also asking that local affiliates pull down contrast ads as well.

The President concluded his remarks with a moment of silence.

Excerpt of President Obama's remarks in Florida from this morning

Update 8:43am

The Attorney General, John Suthers has released this statement:

Sadly, Colorado is once again the location of a tragic and senseless act of violence that will be seared into our collective psyche for years to come.

Law enforcement in Colorado has learned lessons from prior tragedies and has responded to this incident quickly, effectively and professionally. However, it is virtually impossible to prevent incidents of this nature. 

I am confident Colorado law enforcement is doing everything and will do everything within its power to properly investigate this matter and bring the perpetrator of this tragedy to justice. 

On behalf of all law enforcement in Colorado, our hearts go out to the victims and families and everyone impacted by this horrible crime.

Update 8:28am via Kirk Siegler on Twitter

Update 8:25am

Governor Hickenlooper has released this statement on the shooting:

“This is not only an act of extreme violence, it is also an act of depravity. It is beyond the power of words to fully express our sorrow this morning. Our prayers and condolences go first to the families of those killed, and we share the grief of everyone affected by this senseless event. We appreciate the swift work by local, state and federal law enforcement. Coloradans have a remarkable ability to support one another in times of crisis. This one of those times.”

Update 8:08am

We're expecting the President to speak later this morning at 9:20MTN, his campaign events for today have reportedly been canceled.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants both candidates to address gun control in the wake of the shooting in Aurora. The Denver Post has his statement from his appearance on WOR Radio:

Bloomberg said in his weekly WOR Radio appearance Friday that "soothing words are nice." But he said it's time to hear the presidential candidates "stand up and tell us what they're going to do about it."

PBS News Hour is describing the shooting as an event that "transcends politics in America" and is expecting at least a short reprieve in the campaign season as both candidates address the shooting.

Update 7:42am

Earlier this morning on Morning Edition, Steve Inkseep spoke to Howard Pankratz, a veteran reporter with the Denver Post. He covered the mass shooting at Columbine High School in 1999.

Steve Inkseep talks to Howard Pankratz on Morning Edition

Update 7:34am

The AP has an account from an eye witness, identified as Jennifer Seeger of Aurora. The was in the theater in close proximity to the gunman.

From the AP:

She says she "was just a deer in headlights" and ducked to the ground.

Seeger says bullet casings were falling on her head and burning her forehead as the gunman fired steadily, except when he stopped to reload.

She says it was "boom, boom, boom" every few seconds and the gunman shot anyone who tried to leave.

Update 7:23am via the Aurora Police Department on Twitter

Update 7:13am

The Denver Post has a map of both the Century 16 Theater and the locations of area hospitals.

Update 7:09am

The Today Show is reporting that President Obama will be speaking regarding the shooting in Aurora at 11:20am ET (9:20am MTN).

Update 7:02am

Live coverage is being streamed by 9News.

Update 7:00am via the Atlantic Wire on Twitter

Here is the link to the picture mentioned by the Reddit user, comments posted in response are piling up on Reddit as well.

Update 6:51am

The suspect has been identified as James Holmes.

--

Moviegoers didn't at first realize what was happening and some thought the attack was part of the show. Then they saw a silhouette of a person In the smoke at the front of the theater near the screen, pointing a gun at the crowd.

Authorities say the gunman stood at the front of the theater and fired into the crowd at about.

"Witnesses tell us he released some sort of canister. They heard a hissing sound and some gas emerged and the gunman opened fire,'' Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said at a news conference.

Early reports indicated 14 people had been killed. But, Oates says it has been confirmed that 10 victims died at the theater and 2 more at area hospitals. The youngest victim reported was a 6-year-old being treated at children's hospital Colorado, where a total of six victims were taken. Their conditions are unknown.

Police, ambulances and emergency crews swarmed on the scene after frantic calls started flooding the 911 switchboard.

The Gunman

Officers found the suspect near a car behind the theater and also located a gas mask, rifle, handgun and at least one other weapons.

Police have said little about the gas mask-wearing suspect arrested in connection with the shooting except that he is a male in him mid 20's.  The suspect's name hasn't been released and police haven't indicated if there was a motive.

Oates says the suspect talked about the possibility of explosives at his apartment, so other residents of the building were evacuated. He says police also checked for explosives in the parking lot and at the theater.

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