Gunman Kills 12, Injures 50 During 'The Dark Knight Rises' Premiereby: Posted:
A lone gunman - identified by authorities as 24-year-old James Holmes - burst into Aurora, Colo.'s Century 16 Movie Theaters just after midnight and opened fire on patrons, eventually killing 12 people and injuring at least another 50. After police started receiving reportedly dozens of 911 calls around 12:39 a.m. MT, Aurora police apprehended Holmes in the theater parking lot.
Witnesses and survivors were taken to University of Colorado Hospital for treatment and nearby Gateway High School for questioning and counseling. Dr. Camilla Sasson described the chaotic hospital scene as "an absolutely terrifying scene all night." Early reports indicate that 10 victims died inside the theater. The youngest reported victim was six years old.
Witnesses say that Holmes barged in 30 minutes into Christopher Nolan's third and final Batman movie. Holmes reportedly set off a smoke bomb before stalking the theater aisles shooting random audience members, as others fled in a panic. Holmes wore a bulletproof vest and riot helmet, and carried a gas mask, rifle and handgun. When he admitted to authorities to possessing stored explosives, officers then evacuated his Aurora apartment complex to seek out his stockpile.
"You just smelled smoke and you just kept hearing it, you just heard 'bam, bam, bam,' non-stop. The gunman never had to reload. Shots just kept going, kept going, kept going," one witness said to ABC News.
"I'm with coworkers and we're on the floor praying to God we don't get shot, and the gunshots continue on and on, and when the sound finally stopped, we started to get up and people were just bleeding," another said.
A San Diego identified herself as Holmes' mother this morning and spoke with ABC News. She awoke not knowing what her son had done, and had not been contacted by Aurora police. When the tragedy's news reached her, she knew then and there that the incident involved her son.
"You have the right person," she said. "I need to call the police. I need to fly out to Colorado."
Though no official connection has been made between the film and Holmes' motives, ABC News took care to note that "The Dark Knight Rises" features Batman squaring off against a gas-mask-donning violent villain known as Bane. Marketing for the film has often featured explosions and assaults at public gatherings. In the shooting's wake, New York City Police Department commissioner Ray Kelley confirmed stepped-up security at subsequent screenings to stave off copycats. Warner Bros. has canceled Friday's planned Paris premiere event.
"Warner Bros. is deeply saddened to learn about this shocking incident. We extend our sincere sympathies to the families and loved ones of the victims at this tragic time," producers of the movie said via released statement.
Below, Perez Hilton has posted video of the frantic melee that ensued in the theater's lobby.