Gunman Kills 12 People, Wounds 59 More at 'Dark Knight Rises' Premiere

A gunman opened fire during a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises in the Denver suburb of Aurora, Colorado, killing 12 people and wounding at least 59 more. Click here for continuing updates on the tragedy.

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A gunman opened fire during a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises in the Denver suburb of Aurora, Colorado, killing 12 people and wounding at least 59 more.

The situation is still ongoing and there are a lot of confusing and occasionally conflicting reports, as police continue to interview witnesses and gather evidence. Here is the latest information we have:

Police gave an official statement around 3:30 a.m. local time and described the incident this way: Around 12:35 a.m. shortly after a showing of the The Dark Knight Rises began, a lone gunman entered the theater though an emergency exit door carrying several weapons, wearing some sort of body armor, and a gas mask. The man threw one or more canisters of some kind of gas, possibly tear gas or a smoke bomb. Then the man began opening fire with an automatic weapon. More than 50 were people hit — ten died in the theater, four more died after being transported to local hospitals. (Update: The total has since been revised down to 12.) Police responded quickly and found the gunman in the parking lot near his car. The suspect (Update: Now identified as 24-year-old James Holmes.) is in custody and there is "no evidence" that there was a second shooter. The man reportedly told police he had explosives in his apartment and police SWAT teams have surrounded and evacuated his apartment complex (which they say has been booby trapped).

The shooting took place at the Century 16 Theater, next to the mall in Aurora. There were screenings being held in three separate theaters, with the shooting taking place in theater 9. (Though some of the bullets reportedly passed through the wall, hitting people in theater 8.) The age of the wounded victims ranges from 6 to 31, with many of them appearing to be teenagers or younger. All the uninjured witnesses were moved to a nearby high school to be interviewed or receive grief counseling.

Obviously the situation is still in motion and details are still coming in. Read below for earlier updates and we will continue to update with more details as we get them.

Local outlets are covering the incident live include: (KUSA-TV) and KOA Radio.

Times are Mountain


4:05 p.m.: As emergency workers begin removing the 10 bodies from the theater and police continue to slowly make their way into Holmes's booby-trapped apartment, it's time to wrap up our live coverage of this tragedy. We'll keep the news updated throughout the weekend. Thank you for reading.

3:45 p.m.: The theory that Holmes bought a ticket in order to get into the movie looks to be taking hold. The Associated Press cites a "federal law enforcement official," while Gallman, who had previously pointed out Aurora Police's insistence that the shooter's method of entry was unknown, now tweets that "CNN confirms: Aurora hooter purchased a ticket, walked into the movie theater, then snuck out exit door & left it propped open."

3:33 p.m.: The White House says in its latest statement that Obama called Oates to express his and Michelle's solidarity with the town and its police. Read that just below this White House Flickr photo of Obama, Biden, and their advisors, meeting in the Oval Office to discuss the shootings:

This afternoon, the President telephoned Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates from the Oval Office to tell him that his and Michelle’s thoughts and prayers are with the community of Aurora, particularly the local first responders who have performed well under difficult and stressful circumstances. The President also told Chief Oates that he should expect the full support of the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies moving forward, including any resources they need to handle the ongoing situation at the suspect’s apartment. 

Earlier today, upon his return to the White House from Florida, the President, along with Vice President Biden, received a briefing on the investigation of the Aurora, Colorado, shooting from: FBI Director Robert Mueller, Homeland Security Advisor John Brennan, Deputy Attorney General James Cole, Chief of Staff Jack Lew, Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett and White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler.

3:20 p.m.: Reuters' Matthew Keys shares a statement from AMC Theaters, announcing they will not allow in anyone wearing a mask or carrying a toy weapon. The Associated Press, meanwhile, posted this photo of the gas mask Holmes allegedly wore:

3:12 p.m.: There's some debate about that account from the Denver ABC affiliate. CNN's Stephanie Gallman tweets that the latest release from Aurora police says "How the shooter entered the theater and motive are both still unknown."

2:46 p.m.: One nagging question about the mechanics of the attack is how the shooter managed to get the emergency door of the theater open. Those doors usually lock automatically and are too robust to kick down. Denver's ABC affiliate reports it has an answer:

The CALL7 Investigators have learned the gunman bought a ticket to the Batman movie, sat down for about 15 minutes, and then propped open the back door to the theater when it was dark. The gunman then went back to his car and parked it in the back of the theater, grabbed the guns and went in through the open back door.

2:14 p.m.: This is scary: Huffington Post's Arthur Delaney spoke with a neighbor who lived downstairs from Holmes, who said loud techno music started blaring from his apartment at midnight. "I walked upstairs and banged on the door," she said. The door rattled as if it was unlocked. "I contemplated poking my head in and saying, 'Yo, shut that off,' " she told Delaney. She couldn't have known that the apartment had been booby trapped.

1:47 p.m.: One sailor and two airmen were injured in the shooting, the Department of Defense said. Another airman, "known to have been at the theatre that evening," is unaccounted for.

1:13 p.m.: Holmes purchased all four guns legally over the last few months, staring in May, NBC's Chuck Todd reports via NBC reporter Pete Williams. He reportedly bought them at Bass Pro Shops and Gander Mountain Guns.

12:34 p.m.: CNN's broadcast has a witness from the theater describing the attack over the phone, saying the shooter didn't say anything when he burst through the door. He just threw his smoke devices and started shooting.

12:27 p.m.: President Obama has ordered the U.S. flag flown at half-staff until sundown, July 25, The Atlantic's Garance Franke-Ruta reports.

12:25 p.m.: This blog, reportedly from Jessica Ghawi's brother, makes for a haunting read, as he describes his experience of her death.

12:07 p.m.: Holmes left his apartment booby trapped with "incendiary devices and tripwires," as well as "some chemical elements," but tipped off police that they were there, Oates said. "They're linked together with all kinds of wires," and bomb technicians are trying to disarm them, but he couldn't estimate how long that would take. It could be days. He also said the shooter used a 12-gauge shotgun, an AR-15 assault rifle, and two .40 caliber Glock pistols, one of which was found in his car. Police can't yet estimate how many rounds were fired, but Oates said officers responded within about a minute to a minute and a half of the first 911 calls coming in. Oates also refused to confirm Kelly's detail about the red hair and "Joker" comment, but he did confirm he had spoken with NYPD on the phone. The press conference is over now, with another one scheduled for 7 p.m., local time.

12:03 p.m.: Oates also said Holmes wore body armor, including helmet, vest, and leg covering. He also confirmed that at least one person in a neighboring theater was hit when a round went through the wall.

11:58 p.m.: Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said during the press conference that a total of 71 people were shot, including the 12 who died, revising the injury count up to 59. Ten of those died in the theater, and another two died in hospital.

11:40 a.m.: A press conference with colorado law enforcement officials is due to start any minute. CBS is streaming video:

11:21 a.m.: The current list of confirmed casualties is 12 dead, 39 wounded.

11:18 a.m.: A photo gallery from The Denver Post.

11:17 a.m.: MSNBC now saying 4 service members were wounded. A police briefing is expected shortly from Aurora.

11:16 a.m.: NYPD police commissioner Ray Kelly says that Holmes painted his hair red and said he was "The Joker," according to CBS reporter Tony Aiello. Kelly's report is totally unconfirmed, but he is apparently close friends with Aurora's police chief Dan Oates, who spent 21 years in the NYPD.

11:13 a.m.: C-SPAN now has video of Mitt Romney's address.

11:09 a.m.: Vice president Joe Biden also released a statementIt is every parent's worst nightmare to receive that phone call and to sit by their child's bedside, praying. We know what it's like to wait and wonder and the helplessness a parent feels at this moment. Our hearts go out to each and every person who is suffering right now as a result of this terrible event."

10:59 a.m.: This haunting Reuters photo shows a father searching for his son after the shooting. Caption: Tom Sullivan holds up a photo of his son Alex Sullivan pleading the media to help find him, outside Gateway High School a few blocks from the scene of the Century 16 Theatre shootings in Aurora, Colorado.

10:46 a.m.: Mitt Romney is speaking to a crowd in New Hampshire: "Now is the time for each of us to look into our hearts and think about how much we love one another. ...We pray that the wounded will recover and those that are grieving will know the nearness of God. ... This morning Colorado lost youthful voices ... Grieving and worried families in Aurora are surrounded by love today ... Now and in the hard days to come may every one of them feel the sympathy of our whole nation and the comfort of a living God." Like the president, Romney keeps his speech short and avoids politics before departing.

10:30 a.m: @NRA_Rifleman has apparently deleted the tweet that read: "Good morning, shooters. Happy Friday! Weekend plans?"

10:21 a.m.: In another politically charged moment from earlier today, ABC News has apologized for a report this morning that speculated that Holmes was a member of the Colorado Tea Party.

10:11 a.m.: Now Denver's ABC affliiate has what they believe is a more recent picture. The picture is credited to the University of Colorado Medical Campus, where he was a student. It looks like a standard ID photo.

According to their report, Holmes from San Diego to Aurora to attend the medical about a year ago, but the school says he was withdrawing from their neuroscience graduate program.

10:04 a.m.: The family of James Holmes released a brief statement saying, "Our hearts go out to those who were involved in this tragedy and to the families and friends of those involved ... We are still trying to process this information and we appreciate that people will respect our privacy."

10:02 a.m.: Channel 10 News in San Diego has what appears to be a high-school yearbook photo of shooter James Holmes:

9:59 a.m.: An unfortuante Tweet this morning from the official magazine of the National Rifle Association.

9:56 a.m.: MSNBC confirms that two U.S. Air Force reservists and one Navy service member were wounded in the shooting, but there are no updates on their condition. Aurora is home to Buckley Air Force base.

9:44 a.m.: Video of the President's speech is now available on C-SPAN.

9:38 a.m.: Multiple sources have confirmed that the Pentagon says some service members were among the shooting victims, but no details have been given about whether they were killed or just injured.

9:31 a.m.: The Denver Post has a large collection of stories on the shooting today for more detailed updates.

9:24 a.m.: A police spokesperson (Lt. Andra Brown, according to MSNBC) is giving a press conference in front of the house of James Holmes' mother. The spokesperson says they were called by the family due to the massive presence of media and the police are merely there to "keep the peace." They are not conducting an investigation and offered little information about the family or what they are doing. She also passed out a statement from the family to local media.

9:08 a.m.: The Associated Press reports that Holmes was a student at the University of Colorado Medical School before he withdrew last month.

8:48 a.m.: The President addresses his a crowd at a scheduled campaign rally by talking about Aurora instead. He says: "The people lost in Aurora loved and they were loved ... If there's anything to take away from this tragedy it's the reminder that life is very fragile. Our time here is limited & precious. What matters at the end of the day is not the small things. It's not the trivial things ... What matters is how we choose treat one another and how we love one another ... My daughters go to the movies. What if Malia and Sasha had been at the theater? .... There are going to be other days for politics. This is going to be a day for prayer and reflection." The president then called for a moment of silence. He left early rather than deliver his stump speech.

8:45 a.m.: Aurora police say they believe that the suspect's apartment is booby trapped. "We could be here for hours, we could be here for days ... It looks pretty sophisticated." They have evacuated five nearby buildings as a precaution.

8:42 a.m.: The Obama campaign has asked Colorado TV affiliates to temporarily stop airing "contrast advertising" (i.e., attack ads), per Jake Tapper. Maggie Haberman of Politico says that Romney will pull all his ads.

8:26 a.m: Here are some more photos from the scene:

Police use a video camera to look inside an apartment where the suspect in a shooting at a movie theatre lived. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

Eyewitness Chandler Brannon, 25, sits outside Gateway High School where witnesses were brought for questioning.  (AP Photo/Barry Gutierrez)

Caption: Judy Goos, center left, hugs her daughter's friend, Isaiah Bow, 20, while eyewitnesses Emma Goos, 19, left, and Terrell Wallin, 20, right, gather outside Gateway High School where witnesses were brought for questioning Friday, July 20, 2012, in Aurora, Colo. AP Photo/Barry Gutierrez.

8:11 a.m.: Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has issued a brief statement on the shooting: "This is not only an act of extreme violence, it is also an act of depravity."

8:04 a.m.: A woman named Sharon Segura has posted her eyewitness account on YouTube, which she also shared with She says she saw a police officer that was shot, but there's been no mention of a wounded officer from authorities.

7:42 a.m.: The President will cut short a campaign trip to Florida and return to Washington today. He will deliver brief remarks about the shooting at 11:20 a.m. Eastern time. A prayer vigil will also be held in Aurora at 7 p.m. Mountain time tonight.

7:18 a.m.: The New York City Police Department say they will increase security at movie theaters showing "The Dark Night Rises" tonight as "as a precaution against copycats and to raise the comfort levels among movie patrons."

7:05 a.m.: In this image, shown on KUSA-9, a man who was grazed in the head gathers with family members. According the reporter, his daughter was wounded and is at another hospital.

6:58 a.m.: Jessica Redfield's last blog post is about the Eaton Center mall shooting in Toronto last month. She left the food court just moments before that shooting broke out, only to be killed today in Aurora.

6:55 a.m.: KUSA-9 has updates on the wounded. the Auror Medical Center has 12 victims with gunshot wounds, and four are currently in surgery. The 3-month-old at Children's Hospital has been treated and released.

6:52 a.m.: ABC News has contacted a woman in San Diego who identified herself as the mother of James Holmes. She says she was unaware of the shooting, but "You have the right person. I need to call the police... I need to fly out to Colorado." The report says that immediately after being told of the shooting she was concerned her son was involved.

6:48 a.m: Warner Bros. has postponed a red carpet premiere scheduled to take place in Paris tonight with cast members and the media, per The Hollywood Reporter

6:39 a.m.: A Reddit user appears to be one of the victims and posted a photo of his gunshot or shrapnel wound.

6:31 a.m.: An update to earlier tweets about the victims: Jessica Ghawi is @JessicaRedfield on Twitter. They aren't two different people. She tweeted from the theater before the movie started.

6:27 a.m.: Another raw vidow show some victims carried out to the parking lot. (via The Denver Post)

6:09 a.m.: 

6:05 a.m.: The suspect has been identified by the FBI as James Holmes, a 24-year-old man, according to Per NBC's Pete Williams. His car had Tennessee license plates, but he was living locally.

6:03 a.m.: Friends of aspiring sports reporter Jessica Redfield are saying on Twitter that she is one of the victims who was killed in the theater.

5:55 a.m.: Mitt Romney has also issued a brief statement: "We are praying for the families and loved ones of the victims during this time of deep shock and immense grief."

5:53 a.m.: Witnesses tell KUSA the theater was filled with families and kids.

Photo via AP Photo/Ed Andrieski:

5:46 a.m.: NBC News and KUSA are both reporting that the death toll has been revised down to 12. It's possible that some of the victims were counted more than once in the confusion.

5:37 a.m.: The FBI has numerous investigators on the ground. According to KUSA, a spokesman says there is no indication that the suspect has any connection to terrorist or other groups.

5:33 a.m.: KUSA is now broadcasting from the site on 17th Ave. and Peoria in Aurora, where police have evacuated the area around the suspect's apartment. The Denver Police bomb squad is on the scene.

5:28 a.m.: A friend of one the victims tweeted this:

5:24 a.m.: NBC says there were no explosives found in the suspect's car.

5:21 a.m.: A spokesperson for Swedish Medical Center tells CNN that they have four patients a 19-year-old male (in fair condition), a 20-year-old male and 29-year-old female who are both critical, and a 19-year-old female (en route, condition unknown).

5:11 a.m.: Police would not comment on the ages or sex of victims, but The Denver Post reports that the youngest wounded victim in the hospital is a three-month old baby. Other victims are being treated for chemical exposure, most likely tear gas.

5:03 a.m.: President Obama has been briefed by Homeland Security officials and released a statement: "As we do when confronted by moments of darkness and challenge, we must now come together as one American family"

4:40 a.m.: News helicopters caputred this footage of a bomb-inspecting robot investigating what is believed to be the suspect's car.

4:33 a.m.: Last update was a hoax. A prank caller who mentioned Howard Stern called KUSA pretending to be the police chief.

4:28 a.m.: Police Chief Dan Oates says the death toll has been raised to 15.

4:22 a.m.: KUSA-9 reporter Jeremy Jojola interview two men who say they were in the theater and describe what they saw. They say the shooter entered through the emergency exit door, was dressed in black, acted calmly, and did not say anything.

4:19 a.m. Mountain: KUSA on the scene of an apartment complex where SWAT teams have descended, which is possibly the home of the shooter.



  • Reports out of Denver tonight say that there was a mass shooting at during the midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises in the suburb of Aurora. The local radio station KOA is reporting that as many as 10 people may be dead with dozens more wounded.
  • According to reports so far, two men wearing gas masks stood up in the middle of the Century Theater at the Aurora mall. They gunmen set off canisters of tear gas and began opening fire on the crowd during a scene early in the movie where a police shootout takes place. Police scanner activity also indicates that bomb squads are investigating a car in the parking lot.
  • A witness interview on KOA radio says the shooting started in Theater 9, but shots came through the wall into Theater 8.
  • The AP reports that one shooter is under arrest, but there may be a second suspect.
  • KOA: Police, fire and EMS crews from all over Denver have responded to the incident, including dozens of ambulances to transport the wounded.
  • A University of Colorado Hospital spokesman tells CNN they have 20 wounded, with injuries ranging from minor to severe.
  • From 9News in Denver: "CONFIRMED: minimum 10 dead, 39 transported - this just in from Aurora PD Chief Oates. #TheaterShooting"
  • Witness on KUSA tearfully describes seeing a young girl who was shot in the back, and was not moving.
  • A KUSA reporter (who was watching the movie at another theater in the area) says police have descended on other area movie theaters as a precaution.
  • KUSA now saying that witness reports indicate only one gunman. A police statement is expected soon.
  • Official police statements: No evidence of additional shooters. Gunman was found with gas mask, rifle, handgun, and one other weapon. Approximately 50 people were wounded. 14 people have died. 10 died in the theater and 4 at local hospitals. The suspect apparently indicated something about explosives in his apartment, but there is no confirmation of that. Witnesses who were not injured have been moved to a nearby high school for questioning. The suspects apartment building in Aurora has been evacuated.
  • This video was posted on YouTube showing the people exiting the Century Theater after the shooting. Some victim can be seen exiting the theater covered in blood.


This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.