News / USA

12 Killed, 59 Wounded in Shooting at Colorado Theater

VOA News
Police in the U.S. state of Colorado say 12 people were shot to death and 59 wounded in a shooting at a movie theater in a suburb of Denver.

Authorities say the midnight premiere of "The Dark Knight Rises," the latest Batman movie, had just begun at the Century 16 theater in the city of Aurora, when a masked man dressed in black and wearing a bulletproof vest faced the packed crowd from the front of the theater.  They say he set off canisters spewing an irritant and smoke and then started randomly shooting.  Witnesses say he fatally shot an infant at point-blank range.

Police say they arrested the shooter a short time later in the parking lot outside the theater, and recovered an assault rifle, a shotgun, a handgun and a gas mask.  

  • Judy Goos, second from left, hugs her daughter's friend, Isaiah Bow, 20, while eye witnesses Emma Goos, 19, left, and Terrell Wallin, 20, right, gather outside Gateway High School where witnesses were brought for questioning July 20, 2012 in Denver.
  • Jacob Stevens, 18, hugs his mother Tammi Stevens after being interviewed by police outside Gateway High School where witnesses were brought for questioning after a shooting at a movie theater, in Denver, Colorado, July 20, 2012.
  • Shamecca Davis hugs her son, Isaiah Bow, who was an eye witness to the shooting, outside Gateway High School where witnesses were brought for questioning in Denver, Colorado, July 20, 2012.
  • Police outside of Century 16 movie theater where as many as 14 people were killed and many injured at a shooting during the showing of the movie "The Dark Knight Rises" in Aurora, Colorado July 20, 2012.
  • An Aurora Police officer talks on his radio outside of the Century 16 theater at Aurora Mall where as many as 14 people were killed and many injured at a shooting at the Century 16 movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado, July 20, 2012.
  • Aurora Police Chief Daniel Oates talks to media at Aurora Mall where as many as 14 people were killed and many injured at a shooting at the Century 16 movie theater, July 20, 2012.
  • A SWAT team officer stands watch near an apartment house where the suspect in a shooting at a movie theatre lived in Aurora, Colorado, July 20, 2012.
Hours after the incident unfolded Friday in the darkened movie theater, police said they found the gunman's apartment residence "booby-trapped" with explosives and chemical devices. They evacuated nearby residents.

Law enforcement officials identified the suspect as James Holmes, a 24-year-old American who was in the process of dropping out as a neuroscience graduate student at a nearby university.  They said there was no indication the shooting was tied to any terrorist group.

The suspect's family later issued a statement saying "our hearts go out to those who were involved in this tragedy and to the families and friends of those involved."

Obama, Romney react

U.S. President Barack Obama, abandoning a planned re-election campaign rally in Florida, called on Americans to support the victims of the carnage.  He said "such violence, such evil is senseless" and that the nation is "heartbroken."

Obama said the mass shooting was inexplicable. "We may never understand what leads anybody to terrorize their fellow human beings like this," he said.

Obama's Republican presidential challenger, Mitt Romney, also stopped campaigning.  He called the incident "a hateful act" and said the hearts of everyone "break with the sadness of this unspeakable tragedy."

Lone shooter

The movie theater attack was the worst mass shooting in the United States since 2009 when an Army psychiatrist killed 13 soldiers and civilians at a military base in Texas.

Aurora Chief of Police Daniel Oates told a news conference police are "confident" that only one man was involved, contrary to initial reports that there may have been an accomplice.  

The police chief said the suspect told investigators he had multiple explosives at his residence in a North Aurora apartment building, and investigators later found the apartment booby-trapped with flammable and explosive materials.  Residents at five nearby buildings were ordered out of their residences as authorities sought to disarm the dangerous site.

"The suspect who's in custody, made statements about possible explosives in possession of his residence.  At this time, there is a residence in North Aurora -- its an apartment apartment building -- that we have evacuated and we are dealing with as potentially there are explosives inside there," Oates stated. "We're also concerned about explosives in the parking lot, hence the parking lot is completely sealed off.  We have all the area bomb squad teams."

 Eye witness account

One patron at the theater, Jaime Marshall, described a chaotic scene in the moments after the shooting, and said she saw a girl with a bullet wound in her leg.

"So we went up those stairs and we looked to the wall, to the side of the theater where we heard the sounds from and there were bullet holes and so that's when we started screaming for all our friends just to get out. We went up the stairs and we were looking over the lobby and police were out there," she recalled. "There was one officer in a gas mask holding a huge rifle and they were just waving people, trying to get people through the lobby as fast as possible so we ran down the stairs, we ran out of the theatre.  We walked out, I saw a girl with a bullet in her leg."

Amateur Video of Shooting Aftermath

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Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: Sheryl from: NYC
July 21, 2012 2:27 PM
Heavenly Father, we stretch our hands to you; no other help we know. If you should withdraw yourself from us whether shall we go. By the power in the name and blood of Jesus, I lift this tragedy to your throne of mercy and grace, and pray that you have mercy and rescue, heal, deliver, and help everyone involved.

Only you LORD have the power to bring complete recovery to all those still alive; and grant comfort, peace, and strength to the families of the deceased. Lord and Savior Jesus Christ may your grace protect us daily; and may your perfect divine will be done in the earth as it is done in heaven. In your name Jesus I pray. Amen.
In Response

by: Renae from: WNY
July 22, 2012 5:54 PM
In Jesus Name, Amen.

by: Greenmoon from: Canada
July 21, 2012 9:16 AM
There's nothing more to say..........guns kill........that's what they were made for...........RIP, little baby, children, and all victims.

by: RIANO BAGGY from: indonesia
July 20, 2012 11:20 PM
it's mourning day to US citizens. please SENATE and House of Representative to issues law to withdraw all private weapons form us citizens to reduce the assassination, or strength selected who's have guns or weapons.

by: Andrei Fonov from: Russia
July 20, 2012 4:09 PM
The tragedy that occurred in Colorado, not just awful. Ganmn James Holmes had no apparent motive for murder. Now we must studed other terrorist attacks that occurred on 18-19 July 2012. 1. Bomber killed top leaders in Damascus - Indira Gandhi also killed a bodyguard. 2. In the Bulgarian city of Burgas bomber blew up a bus carrying Israeli tourists - here a hand of Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There are two puzzles. In the U.S died Omar Suleiman - Vice-President of Mubarak, he studied in the USSR and the double murder of the spiritual leaders of Tatarstan in Russia, they regulate the Hajj in Saudi Arabia, as we see all the events connected with the Middle East, where the Sabbath begins the Muslim holy month of Ramadan .
In this context, shooting at the cinema 24-year-old American is comparable to an offense which occurred on July 22 in Oslo (Norway). Here Andreas Brevik first bomb exploded in the government quarter, and then went to the island Utayyaa, where he was a youth holiday camp - there Brevik shot from a rifle 30 or 40 young people. He surrendered to police without resistance as well.
The two "shooters" did not give a report in the perfect. Some kind of cynical power enjoyed complete freedom, freedom from street crime, freedom to bear arms.
It is believed that this psychological anomaly. A similar phenomenon happened in Germany in the city of Duisburg, where a crowd of people trying to break into the tunnel a lot of people were killed.
We all mourn about the dead.

by: Mike
July 20, 2012 3:34 PM
Mass murder will always be in the United States because it's a free country and the United States freely sell firearms. This is guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States. Similar killings are constantly taking place in other countries - from Norway to Germany and France. These countries are also free to sell arms. This is the price of freedom. My advice to the authorities - set in movie theaters and schools same security systems like at airports.

by: Debbie Gunter from: Reno, Nevada
July 20, 2012 3:13 PM
Don't you think for safety reasons that, where there are crowds like this special event, that we should be searched? If it would have have saved all these lives, saved all these people the terror they experienced something has to be done, don't you agree?

by: mohsen from: vancouver
July 20, 2012 12:37 PM
Please stop saying that he is insane or he is psycological imbalanced.
Capital Punishment and more control on gun possession.

by: Lara
July 20, 2012 12:22 PM
It can't be helped now,of course,but if he could've been somehow prevented from entering...

by: Andrew from: China
July 20, 2012 10:26 AM
I am really shocked by the news.
In Response

by: APJason from: North Carolina
July 20, 2012 12:19 PM
This is horrible! What was he taught at that college he dropped out of?
Didn't the theater have a sign posted saying no guns allowed? So all the law-abiding citizens left there guns at home, obeying the laws already in place, but the criminal didn't obey all those laws? I wonder what would have happened if somebody had engaged the threat?
Horrible! Prayers go out to all those families affected by this law-breaking criminal.

by: Roland Choquette from: Winnipeg
July 20, 2012 9:06 AM
I news from Mars: I have been warning the people of Earth for a year now, its' going to get bad. A planet billions of light years away exploded as two planets collideed, this happened millions of years ago. Now their spirits are slowlly comming to earth, many are evil some very evil & the odd are good. be afride be very afride.
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