The Kidd here...
This is hardly the news I want to be writing up early this morning, and it's far from cool. However, in order to cut down on the rumors and rampant speculation, I think it's important to present the facts to you that we know coming out of Aurora, Colorado tonight.
About 15 minutes into the midnight showing of THE DARK KNIGHT RISES at the Century 16 Theater in Aurora, CO, a gunman opened fire inside the theatre.
At a press conference held by Police Chief Dan Oates, 14 people have been confirmed dead - 10 on the scene and 4 in area hospitals - with at least 50 injured.
One suspect has been taken into custody, and police say there is no evidence of a second shooter. According to witness accounts, a man walked to the front of the theater before dispersing some sort of cannisters that gave off some sort of smoke or gas and then opened fire.
Police and the F.B.I. as well as other state and local law enforcement are continuing their investigation, searching for explosives in the parking lot as well as at the residence of the suspect upon claims that he possessed some.
The suspect is reported to be a male in his early 20s, and a rifle and two other guns were recovered.
The Aurora Police Department have stated that they will be holding another press conference at 10:00 a.m. PST, and will not release any further information until that time.
This is truly a horrific and tragic events, and, at this time, keep those in Aurora in your thoughts and prayers.
UPDATE (9:46 a.m. EST) - At this time, the death toll has been revised to 12.
The suspect has been identified as 24-year-old James Holmes.
Warner Bros. has released a statement:
"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."
The studio also cancelled Friday night's red carpet premiere in Paris as well as all interviews and media appearances by the film's cast and crew.
President Barack Obama also released a statement:
"Michelle and I are shocked and saddened by the horrific and tragic shooting in Colorado. Federal and local law enforcement are still responding, and my Administration will do everything that we can to support the people of Aurora in this extraordinarily difficult time. We are committed to bringing whoever was responsible to justice, ensuring the safety of our people, and caring for those who have been wounded. As we do when confronted by moments of darkness and challenge, we must now come together as one American family. All of us must have the people of Aurora in our thoughts and prayers as they confront the loss of family, friends, and neighbors, and we must stand together with them in the challenging hours and days to come."
As did Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney:
"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."
Another briefing from police is expected this morning.
UPDATE (1:06 p.m. EST) - The President spoke further on the events in Aurora, Colorado, during a campaign stop in Ft. Myers, Florida this morning. Here is an excerpt of his comments:
"We’re still gathering all the facts about what happened in Aurora, but what we do know is that the police have one suspect in custody. And the federal government stands ready to do whatever is necessary to bring whoever is responsible for this heinous crime to justice. And we will take every step possible to ensure the safety of all of our people."
"We're going to stand by our neighbors in Colorado during this extraordinarily difficult time. And I had a chance to speak with the Mayor of Aurora as well as the Governor of Colorado to express, not just on behalf of Michelle and myself, but the entire American family, how heartbroken we are."
"Now, even as we learn how this happened and who's responsible, we may never understand what leads anybody to terrorize their fellow human beings like this. Such violence, such evil is senseless. It's beyond reason. But while we will never know fully what causes somebody to take the life of another, we do know what makes life worth living. The people we lost in Aurora loved and they were loved. They were mothers and fathers; they were husbands and wives; sisters and brothers; sons and daughters, friends and neighbors. They had hopes for the future and they had dreams that were not yet fulfilled."
"And if there’s anything to take away from this tragedy it’s the reminder that life is very fragile. Our time here is limited and it is precious. And what matters at the end of the day is not the small things, it’s not the trivial things, which so often consume us and our daily lives. Ultimately, it’s how we choose to treat one another and how we love one another."
"It’s what we do on a daily basis to give our lives meaning and to give our lives purpose. That’s what matters. At the end of the day, what we’ll remember will be those we loved and what we did for others. That’s why we’re here."
"I’m sure that many of you who are parents here had the same reaction that I did when I heard this news. My daughters go to the movies. What if Malia and Sasha had been at the theater, as so many of our kids do every day? Michelle and I will be fortunate enough to hug our girls a little tighter tonight, and I’m sure you will do the same with your children. But for those parents who may not be so lucky, we have to embrace them and let them know we will be there for them as a nation."
Four weapons were recovered at the scene, including two handguns, a shotgun and an assalt rifle, in addition to a ballistic helmet and a gas mask.
The suspect had been enrolled at the University of Colorado School of Medicine as a graduate student in the neuroscience PhD program until recently when he began the process of withdrawing from school.
The suspect's family also released a statement from San Diego:
"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 co-operating 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."
The suspect's apartment has been located and searched, where explosive materials have been found. The apartment has been extensively and intentionally booby-trapped to prevent entry, with authorities examining how to carefully proceed forward.
UPDATE (2:33 p.m. EST) - As of the latest police press conference/briefing, the death toll remains at 12 deceased with 71 reported shot.
Police Chief Dan Oates confirmed that authorities are confidant the gunman acted alone, carrying an AR-15 assault rifle, a 40-caliber Glock handgun and a Remmington 12-gauge shotgun, with another 40-caliber Glock recovered in his vehicle.
The subject surrendered without incident in the back of the theatre building near his vehicle, wearing a ballistics helmet and tactical ballistics vest, tactical gloves, leggings, throat and groin protectors.
Police have found incendiary and chemical devices at the subject's residence and apparent trip wires, and five buildings in the area have been evacuated.
The next press conference is scheduled for 9:00 p.m. EST.
UPDATE (4:33 p.m. EST) - The NYPD is increasing security wherever THE DARK KNIGHT RISES is playing. New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly stated at a briefing, "As a precaution against copycats and to raise the comfort levels among movie patrons in the wake of the horrendous shooting in Colorado, the New York City Police Department is providing coverage at theaters where the ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ is playing in the five boroughs.
Warner Bros. has decided to pull all TV spots for THE DARK KNIGHT RISES over the weekend.
AMC Theatres released a statement concerning the events and their security moving forward as well. "For the safety and security of our guests and associates, we are actively working with local law enforcement in communities through the nation and under the circumstances we are reaching out to all of our theaters to review our safety and security procedures."
AMC has since added to their security policy, as they will "not admit guests with face-concealing masks and we will not allow fake weapons in the buildings. We want all our guests to feel comfortable at our theatres and we will be closely monitoring."
UPDATE (6:57 p.m. EST) - It's been our focus to bring you only confirmed facts, not rumor or speculation, throughout the day since these events took place. Now after corroborating this information with multiple sources, it appears that the suspect had died his hair red and identified himself as "the Joker" to police when he was apprehended and taken into custody.
Furthermore, some more unsettling details have now emerged as to how the suspect gained access to the Exit doors in order to enter the theatre. Law enforcement sources state that the suspect had purchased a ticket to the midnight screening of THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. He entered the theatre and propped open the Exit door at the front right of the theatre. He then went back to his car where he retrieved all of his weaponry and body armor before his attack inside.
Christopher Nolan has released a statement early this evening:
"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."
Also, for those of you asking what you might be able to do or if there's somewhere specific you might be able to make donations, we've been told that you can call (303) 739-6346 to make direct donations to the Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance or you can make them online at coloradocrimevictims.org.
UPDATE (9:50 p.m. EST) - The injured count has once again been reduced to 58.
During the latest briefing, Police Chief Dan Oates informed that the injured count has dropped from 71 to 70, with a small fraction of those injuries occurring in the chaos to get out of the theatre with the rest coming from gun shots. The bodies of the 10 deceased who died on the scene have now been removed from the theatre as of this afternoon.
The subject legally purchased four guns in the last 60 days at two different chain stores. He also puchased 6,000 rounds of various ammunition on the internet in addition to multiple magazines for the assault rifle, including a 100-round drum magazine.
The subject is scheduled be making his first court appearance at 8:30 a.m. MST on Monday at Arapahoe County District Court.
The next briefing of information is set for 4:00 p.m. EST on Saturday.
UPDATE (6:23 p.m. EST - 7/21/12) - Authorities set off a small, controlled detonation within the subject's apartment as part of a calculated and phased approach to dismantle the booby trapped explosives. According to F.B.I. agent Jim Yacone, it has been a "slow, methodical progression to preserve evidence at each stage." They hope to have the apartment fully disabled by later this evening.
A high volume of deliveries had been made in recent weeks to the subject's home and work addresses, which is how he managed to collect all of the ammunition.
As for motive and/or any other further details about what authorities have found in the subject's apartment or anything he has told police, that is all being held to present as evidence in a court of law when the time comes in order to get justice for the victims. That will not be compromised by releasing anything in public to the press that isn't essential information at this time.
Christian Bale released a statement regarding the events:
“Words cannot express the horror that I feel. I cannot begin to truly understand the pain and grief of the victims and their loved ones, but my heart goes out to them.”
In addition, the names of the deceased victims have been released. They are as follows:
- Micayla Medek, 23
- Matt McQuinn, 27
- Petty Officer Third Class John Larimer, 27, United States Navy
- Staff Sergeant Jesse Childress, 29, United States Air Force Reserve
- Veronica Moser, 6
- Jessica Ghawi, 24
- Alex Sullivan, 27
- Jonathan Blunk, 26
- Alexander Jonathan Boik, 18
- Alex Teves, 24
- Rebecca Ann Wingo, 32
- Gordon W. Cowden, 51
No further police briefings are scheduled.
With authorities now working to wrap up their investigations, this will conclude coverage of this horrific tragedy in Aurora, Colorado on behalf of Ain't It Cool News.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by these events.
"The Infamous Billy The Kidd"