Shortly after midnight on July 20, 2012, a man exited a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, during a showing of the Batman film sequel The Dark Night Rises. He left through an emergency exit, propped the door open and returned to the theater wearing body armor and carrying an assault rifle, a shotgun and a handgun.
The gunman hurled two gas canisters and started shooting audience members, apparently choosing his targets randomly.
Police arrived at the scene within minutes after receiving hundreds of emergency calls, and the gunman was arrested near his parked car behind the movie theater. He was identified as James Holmes, a 24-year-old PhD student who had recently dropped out of the University of Colorado, where he was studying neuroscience.
Holmes, who had dyed his hair orange, told authorities he was "The Joker," the evil character in the Batman films.
According to Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates, Holmes had purchased the three weapons he was armed with during the attack, along with another handgun found in his car and more than 6,000 rounds of ammunition, on the Internet within two months of the shooting. All the weapons and ammunition were purchased legally.
On July 22, President Barack Obama visited the University of Colorado Hospital, where he met privately with families of victims of the shooting and some of the wounded still in intensive care.
At the end of July, Holmes appeared in court, where he was charged with multiple counts of first degree murder and attempted murder.