13 people are confirmed dead and 59 injured (critically state) after a masked gunman reportedly hurled a tear gas bomb and opened fire during a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo.
The masked gunman is revealed to be James Holmes, a 24-year-old man who was arrested in a car park nearby and is currently in custody. He was reportedly armed with a rifle and two handguns and told police he had explosives at his home, which has been surrounded by a SWAT team.
UPDATE: This afternoon, officers confirmed that the apartment was “booby-trapped”.
Police and witness reports indicate that a gunman fired into the audience 15 minutes into the midnight showing of the film. Police confirmed that the shooter — who entered theater number 9 dressed all in black and wearing a gas mask and released a canister filled with gas and then fired a rifle multiple times into the audience. Some witnesses described the suspect as wearing a SWAT-like outfit, others say a “Bane-style” gas mask and body armor during the attack.
Aurora police chief Dan Oates said that 10 died during the attack, and four more died in the hospitals nearby. Several children and babies were in the theatre and an 80-year-old is believed to have been shot dead at point blank range. A three-month old is among those being treated in hospital and a six-year-old, believing to be the youngest victims, according to reports.
AMC theatres has issued the following statement:
3rd update: July 21, 2012, 5 p.m. CDT Contrary to media reports, costumes are not banned, but we 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
2nd update: July 21, 2012, 2 p.m. CDT Kansas City, Mo. – AMC Theatres is deeply saddened by the Aurora tragedy. Movie going is part of our social fabric and this senseless act shakes us to our core. We’re reinforcing our security procedures with our theatre teams, which we cannot discuss in detail for obvious, safety reasons. Local law enforcement agencies, our landlords and their and our local security teams are stepping up nationwide to ensure we provide the safest environment possible for our guests. We couldn’t be more grateful for their collective support.
At this time, our show schedules circuit-wide will not change. We will not allow any guests into our theatres in costumes that make other guests feel uncomfortable and we will not permit face-covering masks or fake weapons inside our buildings. If guests wish to exchange or refund any tickets, we will honor our existing policy and do as our guests wish. We are taking necessary precautions to ensure our guests who wish to enjoy a movie this weekend can do so with as much peace of mind as possible in these circumstances.
ORIGINAL STATEMENT: We are terribly saddened by the random act of violence in Aurora and our thoughts are with the victims and their families. For the safety and security of our guests and associates, we are actively working with local law enforcement in communities throughout the nation and under the circumstances, we are reaching out to all of our theatres to review our safety and security procedures. Being a safe place in the community for all our guests is a top priority at AMC and we take that responsibility very seriously.
A statement from President Barack Obama:
“Michelle and I are shocked and saddened by the horrific and tragic shooting.”
He added: “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.”
There is nothing to add to this senseless tragedy. The facts are widely known, and understanding of the situation still progressing. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. We ask that our readers keep those suffering from this horrific event in their thoughts as well.