Gunman kills at least 12 in movie theater at "The Dark Knight Rises" screening in Aurora, Colorado

A Colorado gunman walked into a 12:30 a.m. showing of the The Dark Knight Rises, tossed a gas can into the crowd, then began shooting. At least 12 are dead, according to reports, with another 50 hurt.

The police took him into custody and are searching for explosives at his apartment. Redditor iteg3r collated an exhaustive timeline based on local police scanner broadcasts, tweets, and TV bulletins as the night unfolded.

In claimed video of the aftermath (right), a bloodied patron is seen leaving the theater amid confusion and chaos.

Update (830am ET): Local Colorado news provider has a live stream of coverage that's more informative and watchable than what the US cable news networks are doing.

At least 12 have been killed, and at least 38 are confirmed wounded, according to Colorado law enforcement. Victims include a 3-month-old baby. The shooter, according to eyewitnesses speaking to local TV news reports, ran in to the theater, lit a "gas can," shot into the ceiling, then into the crowd.

President Obama, Vice President Biden, and the First Lady have cancelled presidential campaign activities today. Obama: "This is a day of prayer and reflection for the victims."

A suspect is in custody: James Holmes, a 24yo white male who is said to have been wearing a gas mask, a bulletproof vest. According to law enforcement, at least four types of guns were used in the shooting, including an "AK-type" assault rifle, a shotgun, and two handguns. The suspect also used a canister of what is presumed to have been tear gas.

Among the dead was Jessica Ghawi (aka Redfield), a young female sports reporter who narrowly missed being killed at a shooting rampage in a Toronto shopping mall last month. She blogged about that experience here.

I can’t get this odd feeling out of my chest. This empty, almost sickening feeling won’t go away. I noticed this feeling when I was in the Eaton Center in Toronto just seconds before someone opened fire in the food court. An odd feeling which led me to go outside and unknowingly out of harm‘s way. It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around how a weird feeling saved me from being in the middle of a deadly shooting.

Her final tweet is below, sent last night just before the massacre.


    1.  This. Just this. A horrible tragedy, when everyone just wanted to relax and enjoy a movie with friends.

  1. And, pray tell, where was Batman when this was all going on? Sorry to sound callous, but things in the US [West in general? On this whole friggin’ planet?] seem so far removed from reality that this almost seems normal.

  2. It’s rather disappointing how some news sites have decided to focus on Batman when writing about this story.  Many have simply been calling it ‘Batman shooting’….

    1. It’s impossible for the media to disappoint me.  Remember the Underwear Bomber?  They will pick the shortest label for anything no matter the irrelevance of the terms chosen.

    2. The “curse of Batman” article is the worst. Yes, Batman’s scary curse killed all these people. Good journalism there.

  3. I really couldn’t tell if the police were already involved by the time the video was shot but people, come on, bullets can penetrate glass doors and hit you when you’re stood outside. If I’d just seen 12 people shot, I sure as hell wouldn’t just wander outside and stand around by the door waiting to see what happens next…. As the knights in the search for the Holy Grail said “run aawaaaayy…”
    (there were a few people who seemed to be running off down the road but a whole load more who were clustered around the doorway)

    1. In a situation like this, where the theaters were evacuated and you may/may not have seen the shooter (or was it just an idiot with firecrackers…again…at the exact time of the shooting there is mass chaos, different stories flying around, etc)…best thing to do is to take note of where you are and then move from there…

    2.  Well, the videographer wasn’t even smart enough to turn the camera 90 degrees to give the video that needed landscape look.  Why would he or she be more likely to consider self-preservation than making a video?

  4. An unimaginable tragedy.

    I can imagine one thing though:  Not taking your 3-month-old to the midnight showing of a PG-13 movie.

  5. I do not understand the impulse to take video in these situations.  If you have people for whom you are morally responsible, find them.  Otherwise, get the frak out of there. 

    1. Journalists resolutely running the camera in a war zone: heroes. Citizens resolutely running the camera during a firefight: idiots?

      1. I vote for idiot journalists too.
        Not that there are many left, these days; most of them are embedded so deep, they need a custom low-power chipset that can’t even run Android.

  6. Motive? Did the shooter know anyone there?

    With Limbaugh and Beck spending the whole week claiming Bane=Bain, I would be tempted to guess wing nut, but at 24 the shooter is at least 40 years too young to be in the tea party.

    What’s his middle name?

    1.  I’m sure it will be downplayed if the case, as well as the ease in which he acquired his guns.

      1. You mean like how they breathlessly downplayed the imaginary connection between the AZ shooter and the Tea Party? Exactly what media are you paying attention to?

        1.  The one that labels NATO protestors terrorists, but calls a guy actually bombing an abortion clinic in Wisconsin “just a crazy guy”.

        2.  Do you think the media has to be on either one side or the other?

          Ever hear the phrase “both ends against the middle”?  The media doesn’t really have a liberal or a conservative slant.  It has an establishment slant.  When liberals are running the show the media is liberal.  Media’s gotten a lot more conservative since about the year 2000.  See what I mean?

          Notice that you’re objecting to the media smearing the Tea Party while Navin is objecting to the media smearing NATO protestors.  That illustrates my point pretty clearly.  The media doesn’t create narratives to favor either liberal or conservative positions — it doesn’t favor the Tea Party OR NATO protestors.  The media creates narratives to define what sorts of views are allowed to be held in polite society.  It tries to justify the status quo.  Anyone trying to change things, whether from the left or right, is going to get smeared by the media.

    2. 12 people have their lives ended and who knows how the other 38 people’s lives will be effected by their wounds, the blood isn’t even washed off the sidewalk and already someone is blaming the Tea Party:

      GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to go to Brian Ross here, because, Brian, you’ve been looking- investigating the background of Jim Holmes here. You’ve found something that might be significant.

       BRIAN ROSS: There is a Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado page on the Colorado Tea Party site as well. Talking about him joining the Tea Party last year. Now, we don’t know if this the same Jim Holmes. But it’s Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado.

       STEPHANOPOULOS: Okay, we’ll keep looking at that. Brian Ross, thanks very much.[The Jim Holmes they’re referring to is in his 50s, the shooter is in his 20s]

      1.  You’re shocked that people are trying to figure out what motivated such a barbaric rampage?

        1.  When some of us tried to figure out what motivated the Fort Hood shooting, we were told “Just a lone nut.  No ideology here.  Move along please”

          1. And nothing. These chattering idiots are all looking to scoop everyone else and push their own agenda. Who cares if it was rock music or bath salts or cosplay that drove him to kill? There’s hundreds of other people subject to the same influences who DON’T decide to murder people. 

            The moral assholes on BOTH sides are going to choose whatever info in the shooter’s background they object to and then push to ban it.  What if it WAS the Tea Party or Cthulu or fuzzy kittens? I’m not so eager to have a bunch of moral idiots taking stuff that most people out there can enjoy responsibly.

        2. I think maybe we’re shocked that they’re working so hard to politicize it without the benefit of verifiable information. 

      2.  ABC News has already apologized for an “incorrect” statement that the shooter may have had Tea Party connections.

    1. I’ve been waiting for this, and you’re the first one I’ve seen to say it.

      Now, can somebody tell me what the fuck is it with people that they can’t distinguish between reality and this kind of bullshit movie nihilism? We’re talking about superhero movies here! It seems as though people are seeing these movies and actually internalizing the antisocial beliefs of the cartoon villains as their own. Are people that stupid? That lost? I’m mystified, truly, by this.

      I’m torn up every time I see a story like this. I’m enraged by the whole gun culture the U.S. is perpetuating, but I’m more upset by the fact that this mindless attraction to destruction seems to be contagious. Do the people who commit this kind of atrocity see others doing it and sense a kinship between the perpetrators and their psychotic fantasy selves, which makes them more likely to act on violent impulses? In short, why the fuck are so many people going crazy?

      And, jaduncan, please don’t think I’m directing this at you. I doubt you’re a budding psychopath, and I even think it unlikely that you believe that a substantial number of people do indeed want to see the world burn.

      I’m just sad and mystified and angry.

      1. Are people that stupid? That lost?

        Short answer is yes. We’re all insulated in our lives from people in vastly different circumstances from our own and it’s easy to not realize that people react to things like superhero movies in, frankly, insane ways. Them being able to find kinship and support on the internet makes it worse, but it also means that if you go looking outside of the usual places you look on the internet you can find these people and gain some insight into their minds. 

        I’ve known people in person who take things like that seriously too, and do the whole “internalizing the beliefs of movie characters” thing. Usually it’s benign and just seems silly, but it can be scary too.

        Which is not to speculate that this had anything to do with this guy’s motives, but the literally insane character of The Joker from the last film did strike a huge chord with a lot of young people.

      2. > It seems as though people are seeing these movies and actually internalizing the antisocial beliefs of the cartoon villains as their own. Are people that stupid? That lost?

        Yes, yes they are. We live in alienating societies. A handful of individuals are glorified for their talents, and whoever doesn’t share those talents (making money, being beautiful, being popular) is isolated and made fun of. Eventually, some people will snap.

        We had Columbine, and people thought the problem was limited to in-school bullyism, when the truth is that bullyism has deep roots in our society as a whole.

      3. “I doubt you’re a budding psychopath, and I even think it unlikely that you believe that a substantial number of people do indeed want to see the world burn.”
        Personally I think that a society without much in the way of social support networks combined with a lack of societal protections against poverty is likely to lead to a fairly vicious general atmosphere. Combine that with a huge lack of effective mental health care facilities and it’s not surprising that people end up with huge resentments and then go postal.

        Oh, and yeah, in a society with a gun/general violence fetish and easy access to weapons. It doesn’t surprise me that much, and makes me glad that I live in a country where the social fabric is still a bit more bonded. I’m not stupid though; given the amount of anger in our riots I’d have to say that the main thing that separates the UK from the US in this matter is the lack of access to guns.

      4. True story.  I was at an autograph session at a porn shop about 15 years ago.  (On business, long story, not now.)  I struck up several conversations with people in the crowd.  One guy was perusing the hentai and I greeted him and complimented him on his choice of viewing material.  He then proceeded to launch into exhaustive explanations of all the movies on display and of all the female characters in those movies.

        It took me a while to snap to it but it eventually dawned on me that he wasn’t discussing *characters*.  He was talking about *actresses*.  In his mind, the female hentai characters were REAL people.  I realize that’s a leap but you had to be there.  This guy had NO boundary between reality and his fantasies about the female characters in the hentai he loved.

        I’ve spent time with weird, disturbing people at several times in my life but this guy creeped me out more than anyone I’d ever met.

        So, yes.  Yes, people are that stupid and lost. At least some of them are and one, with motivation and tools, is too much.

      5. I think that people who commit atrocities like this feel disenfranchised, pathologically lonely and like they are not getting the adoration and love that was promised to them by a lifetime of movies and videogames. 

        Combine the above with an inflated ego but with an utter lack of the patience, endurance and flexibility it takes to acquire actual skills, and you are left with comparatively easy destruction as the only path to fame and glory. 

        It’s like there is a whole group of people that don’t realize that what movies montage through is actual life, in all it quotidian dumbness and beauty; that there is, in fact, no third act denouement in which Questions are Answered and Rewards are Achieved. Or maybe they do realize but it only makes them feel angrier and more betrayed.

        I don’t mean to write a blame it all on Hollywood post, only to suggest that there are people who think Fight Club is a sophisticated and revolutionary call to action. And, also, that most of us are spending less time with living people and more time with glamorized
        representations of people – be it our peers on Facebook or celebrity
        confessionals. All of which present a more ordered world in which actions have meaning and the environment itself is a reflection of the main characters’ psyche.

        As a group, this has to have an effect on our patience for and ability to enjoy, unaugmented life. More so in the case of an individual with preexisting psychopathy.

        tl;dr: Maybe some people behave like they are in a comic book because they wish they were.

        1. Fight Club is another prime example for me of people taking words that are said onscreen at face value and identifying with them (or thinking that they SHOULD identify with them) while not considering the context–the context of the characters in the movie, or the context of the movie relative to real life.

          Thanks to everyone for your thoughts. My questions were serious ones. I was lucky in my upbringing. Not wealthy, but lucky to have been loved by my family, to have had enough success in school to build up confidence to endure the routine traumas of adolescence, and to have been sheltered (in what I think was a good way) from violence and hatred (actual and depicted) until I was more ready to handle it.

          I hear a lot of young people who really seem to believe the world is shit, that violence and conflict are unavoidable, that blind conformity or sociopathic  behavior are ones only choices. It’s such a narrow worldview. I want to help them choose to participate, to work at making things better, to–dare I say it–be happy, not because I’m some Pollyanna who thinks the world is beautiful, but because the reality we’re in is all we’ve got. Which I think is related to what you’re saying, Layla. I worry for my daughter. About violence around her, sure, but also about what I can do to keep her awake and aware of the realities around her while at the same time keeping her from feeling alienated from the world to such an extent that violence and chaos seem like acceptable elements.

        2. don’t mean to write a blame it all on Hollywood post, only to suggest that there are people who think Fight Club is a sophisticated and revolutionary call to action.

          If you watch closely, you’ll see it’s actually the opposite. The book’s a little clearer since in it the main character doesn’t get the girl…he ends up locked in an insane asylum with the flesh rotting off his face.

          Edit in response to Layla: OK, do you think I should feel bad about responding the way I did? I still felt it was worth mentioning that the movie criticizes rather than encourages revolutionary violence.

          1. It wasn’t my personal thoughts on the movie that I meant to discuss – only its reception.

      6. Are people that stupid? That lost? I’m mystified, truly, by this.

        Consider the fact that Taxi Driver was made in the 70’s.

        It’s nothing new but it really does seem like it’s getting worse.

      7.  Do the people who commit this kind of atrocity see others doing it and sense a kinship between the perpetrators and their psychotic fantasy selves, which makes them more likely to act on violent impulses? In short, why the fuck are so many people going crazy?

        It could be, but it could also be that aspects of their life outside the media were the main reason they developed psychotic fantasies of killing strangers, so that even though they might draw on characters in the media, the media didn’t really make them “more likely” to act (even if the modern media was relatively free from violence, a psychopath fantasizing about destruction could surely find some characters to draw on, from history if not from fiction).

        1.  I really think it’s more like this, than “person never thought about going on a mass murder rampage until they saw it in a movie, decides it’s a brilliant idea”.

          In the middle ages people had psychotic breaks shaped by the media and cultural symbolism of their times – religious, folkloric and animal imagery. Having some peasant go on a rampage and scream about how he’s a wolf or that the devil made him do it or the hag on his back is whipping him isn’t much different than someone deciding Charleton Heston in The Ten Commandments is talking to him.

          The difference is mostly in that we hear about these events more, and it’s easier to pull up records of past events of a similar nature from far away and make a miserable big list of everyone in the last thirty years from all across the continent that’s done something similar, making it seem like this is something horribly special and recent and frequent.

          It’s just way easier to find out about with Google.

  7. I see the thread is already headed towards a gun control/right-to-bear-arms flame war.  Please, let’s not go there.

  8. A new piece at HuffPo on what’s known so far about the shooter, apparently to be updated as info comes in–

    The FBI has revealed Holmes is a white male who is 6 feet, 3 inches tall and 24 years old, with a birth date of Dec. 13, 1987. Authorities have found no significant criminal record and no terrorist affiliations. Investigators suspect he acted alone.

    A motive in the shooting is not yet known.

    A San Diego, Calif., woman who identified herself as Holmes’ mother told ABC News she had not yet been contacted by authorities. She said she was unaware of the shooting and expressed concern that her son may have been involved.

    “You have the right person,” she said, apparently speaking on instinct and not second-guessing her son would be involved. “I need to call the police … I need to fly out to Colorado.”

    1. My bet is on “history of untreated depression” and “worked there and was fired for undisclosed reasons”.

      1. Apparently he was a Ph.D. student rather than working, but was dropping out:

        Holmes was studying neuroscience in a Ph.D. program at the University of Colorado-Denver graduate school, university spokeswoman Jacque Montgomery said. University officials earlier said he was a student at the university’s medical school.

        Holmes enrolled in the program in June 2011 and was in the process of withdrawing at the time of the shootings, Montgomery said.

  9.  Littleton & Aurora are very far apart (both geographically and economically), but… Denver is the Mile High City. We’re all crazy from oxygen deprivation.   A comparison of tea party & Occupy protestor numbers around the country put us at #1 per capita for uppity people.

  10. Several other sites are linking to a several week old profile on the Colorado Tea Party’s social networking site for someone with the same name as the shooter. The profile doesn’t have enough information on it to really tell if it is the same person but does make me wonder just how much does it suck when something like this happens and you share a name with the criminal.  I’ve heard that the reason why serial killers usually are known by first middle and last name is to make the impact on others with the same first and last name lesser. 

    James Holmes sounds like the type of name that is going to be relatively common. Any of them from Colorado are probably getting everything they’ve posted online heavily examined right now by thousands.

  11. This was a terrible tragedy, but I’m also concerned by the reports of young victims including a 3 month old, a 6 year old, and a 9 year old. Seriously, who takes children that young to a midnight showing of a PG-13 movie? Especially the baby? A dark loud theater is no place for someone who isn’t pottytrained yet.

    1. Same people who took their small children to see “Ted”.  Spoke to my local theater manager and he just shook his head at the idiots who took their kids to see a movie about a talking teddy bear.

    1.  Yeah, I came here to clarify that.  Although Vancouver does have gang shootings, they’re usually more targeted.  The mall massacre was in Toronto.

  12. The shopping mall shooting happened in Toronto NOT Vancouver. The two cities are thousands of kilometers apart. Please check your facts before posting.

  13. Statement from Hollywood:

    MPAA stages pre-emptive strike against pirates who use their phonecams in the theatre to steal movies. Sorry about the collatoral damage, but We Must Protect Our Right To Control Everything You See Or Hear!

    Expect us.

  14. I was sleepy when I first read the story, and my initial thought is that this was some kind of fiction short story. Like in tbe book Jennifer Government when Nike  hires a hitman to shoot people lined up to buy their hot new shoes. So that they could create buzz about their new product line.

    1. I kinda thought the same thing; initially the detail with the hissing gas canister really through me for a loop.

  15. I wonder what it is about this story that has led to so many jokes in the comments already. I couldn’t say for sure but I don’t think we see anywhere near this many jokes for other similar-scale tragedies, do we? Is it because Batman, e.g., “why so serious?”

    The effect on the opening weekend box office for this film has already been declared a stupid/callous question, but I do think it’s interesting from a sociology perspective. That goes for overall movie attendance in general this weekend. The thought of being caught in a massacre like this in a dark, smoke-filled theater is absolutely terrifying of course, but unlikely to happen again anytime soon and if the shooting had happened in any other context nobody would be thinking twice about going to see Batman right now. It’s going to make anybody who goes and sees it today anyway look callous when really it has nothing to do with it.

    1. “unlikely to happen again”? There are thousands of Batman showings all over Alienated Smalltown America and movie theatres are basically unprotected. The only thing stopping copycats is time and logistics: if you still have to buy your gun and gas, you probably won’t make it in time for next week, but if you were already halfway down your TaxiDriver experience here’s a nice trigger for you, with a guarantee of national audience. Distributors cannot even suspend viewings for a while, because it would actually help the maniacs get time to organize.

        1. Let’s see, Colorado… ah yes, Columbine.,9171,990949,00.html

          1. Dude, for a Zen Buddhist you are quite the troll.

            Columbine is just the most famous incident of media-triggered (not induced) copycat behaviour. The definition exists for a reason. Yes, spree-killing is rare (and hard), but just because you don’t read about other attempts it doesn’t mean that they don’t exist.

  16. “kicking in” an emergency exit door sounds highly unlikely. 

    A commercial space almost certainly had a steel door in a steel frame, and an exit door would without exception swing out. 

    So this is not a matter of kicking a door and breaking the lock and having it swing open, because it would not swing in the direction he would be kicking it. 

    To kick in said door you would have to kick it THROUGH the door frame and the door stop around the perimeter of the frame, bending or breaking off the hinges, because they are set to swing the other way. The only way to “kick-in” an exit door would be to hit it hard enough to collapse the entire door panel and push it through the door frame. 

    Maybe a couple of peace officers with a ram could break in said door, but nobody is going to simply kick and enter through a steel commercial exit door locked to the outside. As this gets unpacked I’m sure we’ll find that is not how the assailant entered the theater. 

    I was not able to respond since comments closed, but was able to edit. I wanted to make clear what apparently is not obvious to beneglish below. The shooter did not come to the theater and walk around the perimeter looking for an open exit door. He knew which theater he was going to for which show. Which means either somebody let him in the exit door from inside, or he bought a ticket and walked through the lobby carrying body armor, gas canisters, and by reports at least two long guns. I understand people dress up for Batman premiers, but an assault rifle and shot gun? Or carried a duffle bag big enough for both through the lobby into the theater? The shooter did not force their way in – he walked past everybody, the difference being Somebody should have been the wiser at what they were seeing.

    1. Kick in, pull open, whatever.  As posters above have pointed out from experience, entering a theater via the emergency exit is possible, perhaps even easy.  I’m sure the details are not yet being reported correctly.  For example, the rifle was initially reported as “AK-like” but is now being reported as a S&W AR-pattern; the difference, in context, is unimportant.  You’re pointing out a distinction without a difference.  To what aim?

      1. I think lava is just pointing at the media hyperbole and wondering what else could be inaccurate in the story as reported so far. As the movie hopper who rang in above, I will add that leaving through the emergency exits is easy enough but usually those hallways reroute you through to one of the other lobbies. Often, you can’t re-enter back through the emergency exit at all, unless it has been propped open (which is often the case).

        The “kicked-in” door is interesting for another reason as it sounds like someone talking back to the media in a phrase learned from the media.

  17. I have a friend who survived a Khmer Rouge farm and, after escaping to Thailand, a refugee camp. He would only sit in the back of a theater, under a balcony if possible, because terrorists tended to attack the middle rows.
    I told him to relax, this doesn’t happen in America.

  18. Obviously not the most important part of the article, but the Eaton Center is in Toronto, not Vancouver.

  19. The part about Jessica Redfield really gets me. I know it’s probably just an astoundingly unlucky coincidence, thinking about it rationally… but the fact that someone can encounter two homicidal rampages within two months, completely unrelated to each other, really makes it feel like things have gotten so bad that nowhere is safe.

  20. The senselessness and pointlessness of it all!!

    A note to the Editor – The gun violence in Canada was not in the city of Vancouver, but in a shopping mall in the city of Toronto, Canada.  Also, what happened in Toronto was not a shooting rampage as what it appears in Denver, but a targeted shooting of a specific individual in a busy food court.  Bystanders in Toronto were not deliberately targeted.

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