Note: As we gather more information about this case, we will update this article. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of the victims in this tragedy and their families.
A suspect by the name of James Holmes is in custody after he opened fire at a midnight screening of the Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colorado. Twelve people were killed and fifty people were wounded. Witnesses at the theater said that the gunman threw noxious gas before opening fire at people in the theater, which made escaping difficult.
The suspect is a white male and he was found in the parking lot. When police arrived, he did not resist arrest. The people in the theater were forced to decide whether to stay on the ground, help wounded victims, or run away as the gunman started to reload his weapons. Survivors were forced to run past bodies in the aisles and theaters.
The gunman had a rifle, a shotgun, and two handguns according to the police. The shooting started minutes after 12:05AM when the movie started. The gunman entered the theater through the emergency exit door near the front of the screen in theater number 9 at the Century 16 in Aurora.
One of the witnesses said that he saw a man two seats over that was shot in the head. “I can’t get his image out of my head,” said the witness. The tall and muscular gunman was wearing a riot helmet and gas mask. He was dressed all in black and he said nothing when he entered the theater. Initially people in the theater thought it was part of the show.
Some of the bullets went through the walls of theater number 8 and injured people. The suspect was found outside of the theater holding a rifle and handgun. The suspect also indicated to police that his apartment building might have explosives so authorities evacuated that structure.
Below are some of the tweets described from a girl named Caitlin that was at the theater around the time that the attack happened:
One of the victims that was shot at the theater was Jessica Ghawi. Ghawi is an aspiring sportscaster that had escaped a similar shooting at a Toronto shopping mall in early June. Ghawi went to Denver to pursue a sports career. Her Twitter handle is @JessicaRedfield. Some of the last tweets she sent out was about watching the Dark Knight.
When Ghawi escaped a shooting in Toronto this past June, she wrote a blog post on her WordPress account titled “Late Night Thoughts on the Eaton Center Shooting.” Below is what she wrote in that blog post:
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.
What started off as a trip to the mall to get sushi and shop, ended up as a day that has forever changed my life. I was on a mission to eat sushi that day, and when I?m on a mission, nothing will deter me. When I arrived at the Eaton Center mall, I walked down to the food court and spotted a sushi restaurant. Instead of walking in, sitting down and enjoying sushi, I changed my mind, which is very unlike me, and decided that a greasy burger and poutine would do the trick. I rushed through my dinner. I found out after seeing a map of the scene, that minutes later a man was standing in the same spot I just ate at and opened fire in the food court full of people. Had I had sushi, I would?ve been in the same place where one of the victims was found.
My receipt shows my purchase was made at 6:20 pm. After that purchase I said I felt funny. It wasn?t the kind of funny you feel after spending money you know you shouldn?t have spent. It was almost a panicky feeling that left my chest feeling like something was missing. A feeling that was overwhelming enough to lead me to head outside in the rain to get fresh air instead of continuing back into the food court to go shopping at SportChek. The gunshots rung out at 6:23. Had I not gone outside, I would?ve been in the midst of gunfire.
I walked around the outside of the mall. People started funneling out of every exit. When I got back to the front, I saw a police car, an ambulance, and a fire truck. I initially thought that maybe the street performer that was drumming there earlier had a heart attack or something. But more and more police officers, ambulances, and fire trucks started showing up. Something terrible has happened. I overheard a panicked guy say, ?There was a shooting in the food court.? I thought that there was no way, I was just down there. I asked him what happened. He said ?Some guy just opened fire. Shot about 8 shots. It sounded like balloons popping. The guy is still on the loose.? I?m not sure what made me stick around at this point instead of running as far away from the mall as possible. Shock? Curiosity? Human nature? Who knows.
Standing there in the midst of the chaos all around us, police started yelling to get back and make room. I saw a young shirtless boy, writhing on a stretcher, with his face and head covered by the EMS as they rushed him by us to get him into an ambulance. The moment was surprisingly calm. The EMTs helping the boy weren?t yelling orders and no one was screaming like a night time medical drama. It was as if it was one swift movement to get the boy out of the mall and into the ambulance. That?s when it really hit me. I felt nauseas. Who would go into a mall full of thousands of innocent people and open fire? Is this really the world we live in?
Police start yelling again ?GET BACK NOW!? Another stretcher came rushing out of the mall. I saw a man on a stretcher, the blanket underneath him spotted with blood. Multiple gunshot holes in his chest, side, and neck were visible. It?s not like in the movies when you see someone shot and they?re bleeding continuously from the wound. There was no blood flowing from the wounds, I could only see the holes. Numerous gaping holes, as if his skin was putty and someone stuck their finger in it. Except these wounds were caused by bullets. Bullets shot out of hatred. His dark skin on his torso was tinted red with what I assume was his own blood. He was rushed into the ambulance and taken away.
More people joined the crowd at the scene and asked what happened. ?There was a shooting in the food court,? kept being whispered through the crowd like a game of telephone. I was standing near a security guard when I heard him say over his walkie talkie, ?One fatality.? At this point I was convinced I was going to throw up. I?m not an EMT or a police officer. I?m not trained to handle crime and murder. Gun crimes are fairly common where I grew up in Texas, but I never imagined I?d experience a violent crime first hand. I?m on vacation and wanted to eat and go shopping. Everyone else at the mall probably wanted the same thing. I doubt anyone left for the mall imagined they witness a shooting.
I was shown how fragile life was on Saturday. I saw the terror on bystanders? faces. I saw the victims of a senseless crime. I saw lives change. I was reminded that we don?t know when or where our time on Earth will end. When or where we will breathe our last breath. For one man, it was in the middle of a busy food court on a Saturday evening.
I say all the time that every moment we have to live our life is a blessing. So often I have found myself taking it for granted. Every hug from a family member. Every laugh we share with friends. Even the times of solitude are all blessings. Every second of every day is a gift. After Saturday evening, I know I truly understand how blessed I am for each second I am given.
I feel like I am overreacting about what I experienced. But I can?t help but be thankful for whatever caused me to make the choices that I made that day. My mind keeps replaying what I saw over in my head. I hope the victims make a full recovery. I wish I could shake this odd feeling from my chest. The feeling that?s reminding me how blessed I am. The same feeling that made me leave the Eaton Center. The feeling that may have potentially saved my life.
Jessica’s brother Jordan is writing on his blog about what is happening. He is visiting a mutual friend Brent Lowak that was at the theater with Jessica. Brent said that he took two rounds and that his sister took one round followed by an additional round that appeared to strike her in the head. Brent was transported to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
Here is a video of Jessica at work.
Warner Brothers, the studio that created The Dark Knight Movie, released the following 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.?
Warner Brothers cancelled the Paris premiere of the film and cancelled all media interviews with director Christopher Nolan and cast members of the movie.
President Obama issued the following statement about the shooting:
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.
Below is is footage that YouTube user 13shantyltoledo uploaded from his Android phone:
The University of Colorado has released a photo of James Holmes. Holmes attended the School of Medicine at the University of Colorado and grew up in San Diego, California. When Holmes was arrested, he told the police “I am the Joker.” His hair was dyed similar to the Joker character in the Batman series.
Holmes was a graduate of Carmel Valley’s Westview High School, class of 2006. He was in the process of withdrawing from the University of Colorado-Denver graduate school. University of Colorado Hospital spokeswoman Jacque Montgomery said she did not know what Holmes decided to withdraw.
Holmes is believed to have boobytrapped his apartment and it is still being cleared. Police founds lots of ammunition in the apartment. The explosives that were found in Holmes’ apartment is very “sophisticated” and will take some time to disarm.
Holmes’ neighbor Tom Mai said he was shocked to hear about what happened because he described Holmes as a nice guy, but was struggling to find a job.
There is a thread on Reddit (1/2/3/4) that has posts from witnesses and victims of the shooting. The Reddit users have been posting photos related to the case.
Photo of the back of the theater. That white car appears to have belonged to the shooter (Cody Croucher).
Reddit/Twitter/Imgur user themurderator (known as Christoper Rapoza) posted these photos of himself with a bullet wound.
Zack Golditch (verbally committed) and Davidon Anderson are two CSU football players that were wounded in the incident. Below are some of the tweets that Golditch sent from his Twitter account:
About 15 days before the shooting took place, James Holmes created a disturbing profile on AdultFriendFinder. We covered the AdultFriendFinder profile more in-depth at this link: