Colorado Dark Knight Theater Shooting Update
Things have been developing throughout the day since we originally reported on the theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado. The shooting took place during the midnight opening for The Dark Knight Rises at Aurora Town Center Mall Century 16 movie theater, which was packed for the occasion.
Since this morning, the numbers have changed … 12 deaths and 59 injured during the midnight attack at the theater.
The University of Colorado
What we’ve learned since this morning is that the suspect (seen above in his University of Colorado picture), 24-year old James Eagan Holmes, entered the theater through an emergency exit, dressed in riot gear and wearing a gas mask. After he threw out smoke grenades, some folks thought it was a promo stunt for the movie, until he started opening fire. He attempted to shoot anyone who tried to exit the theater.
After receiving multiple 911 calls, police arrived within minutes. Holmes was apprehended at the back of the theater. He was taken into custody along with his arsenal: two handguns, a shotgun and an assault rifle. Charges are still pending.
Holmes apparently told police that his apartment was rigged with explosives. Officers on the scene said they found a “very sophisticated” and booby trapped bomb inside the apartment (see top image). Based on their discovery, they evacuated a total of five buildings in the area while they decided how to diffuse the bomb.
In a bizarre twist of fate, a hockey commentator and blogger, Jessica Redfield (aka Jessica Ghawi) fell victim to one of Holmes’ bullets. The irony is that Redfield had only recently skirted death in another mass shooting at a mall in Toronto last month. She blogged about her experience and about having a weird feeling that saved her life.
Meanwhile, more details about the alleged shooter keep coming in. During a news conference this afternoon it was revealed that Holmes had dyed his hair red and told police that he was The Joker, one of Batman’s arch enemies. But the bizarre nature of Holmes doesn’t stop there. Until recently, he was a graduate student at Colorado University, where he was studying for his Ph.D. in neuroscience. He had recently submitted a research paper on psychiatric and neurological disorders. Why he recently withdrew from the school remains unclear.
While mass shootings like this one never make sense, there is often a motive, however deluded, in the shooter’s mind. At this time, police have not revealed if they have determined a motive for Holmes’ actions or not. They have said that they do not believe him to be affiliated with any terrorist organizations.
President Obama took a break from the campaign trail in Fort Myers, Florida, to speak to the nation about the tragedy:
Presidential candidate Mitt Romney also responded this morning with a statement regarding the shooting:
“Ann and I are deeply saddened by the news of the senseless violence that took the lives of 15 people in Colorado and injured dozens more. We are 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.
Warner Bros. also issued a statement regarding the shooting:
“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.”
In addition to canceling the Paris premiere of the movie, Warner Bros. is also pulling a version of the trailer for Gangster Squad which was set to play before some screenings of The Dark Knight Rises. The trailer contains a scene where men with tommy guns shoot at an audience from behind a movie theater screen. They have also indicated they will be pulling TV and radio ads for the movie for a few days.
The director of The Dark Knight Rises, Christopher Nolan, also released a statement this afternoon offering his condolences to the victims and their families, while sharing this thoughts about what the theater really means:
“Speaking on behalf of the cast and crew of The Dark Knight Rises, I would like to express our profound sorrow at the senseless tragedy that has befallen the entire Aurora community. I would not presume to know anything about the victims of the shooting but that they were there last night to watch a movie. I believe movies are one of the great American art forms and the shared experience of watching a story unfold on screen is an important and joyful pastime. The movie theatre is my home, and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me. Nothing any of us can say could ever adequately express our feelings for the innocent victims of this appalling crime, but our thoughts are with them and their families.”
The National Association of Theater Owners released the following statement:
“On behalf of all the members and staff of the National Association of Theatre Owners, our hearts and prayers go out to the victims of this despicable act and their families. We are grateful for the quick and effective response by police and emergency personnel. Guest safety is, and will continue to be a priority for theater owners. NATO members are working closely with local law enforcement agencies and reviewing security procedures.”
The family of James Eagan Holmes, who reside in San Diego, also issued a written statement after learning of their son’s involvement in the shooting:
“Our hearts go out to those who were involved in this tragedy and to the families and friends of those involved. We ask that the media respect our privacy during this difficult time. Our family is cooperating with authorities in both San Diego, California and Aurora, Colorado. We are still trying to process this information and we appreciate that people will respect our privacy.”
While we mourn the loss of innocent lives and debate the future of the alleged shooter, there are even bigger questions that come to mind:
- Where do we, as Americans, stand on the issue of gun control?
- Is that what this is really all about?
- What actions and precautions can theaters take to ensure their patron’s safety?
- What thoughts or actions are simply reactionary and not really helpful?
- Who is really to blame for this tragedy?
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