What was supposed to be an entertaining movie event for family and friends turned into a sadistic murder spree, as an alleged lone gunman infiltrated the late night screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colorado and indiscriminately fired upon the audience, killing 14 people and injuring at least 50 more.
The heavily armed gunman is believed to have kicked open an emergency exit door, lobbed in a powerful tear gas grenade, and then opened fire on the defenseless audience. The suspect in custody was wearing a bullet proof vest and had a gas mask. FoxNews speculated that someone may have stashed handguns in the theater itself.
Nearly one hundred witnesses at the multiplex theater in Aurora were later questioned by police authorities at a local high school. The suspect’s name was not released to the public, but he is said to be in his mid-20s.
Some witnesses in nearby theaters thought that the explosions and gunfire were noises from the nearby movie. It later became shockingly apparent that this was not the case. A shaking cellphone video from the crime scene shows the shock of the moviegoers as they filed out onto the streets.
Among the victims of the horrifying shooting was a six-year old girl, who was taken to Children’s Hospital Colorado, as was five other victims. A girl about nine years old was reportedly shot in the stomach.
President Obama’s administration released a statement saying that he was “saddened” and he would do what he could to support the people of Aurora. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney also released a statement.
According to FBI spokesman Jason Pack, there was no indication of any connection of the shooting to terrorism. However, if it turns out that the public display of mass murder was intended to send a political message, it would ostensibly fit the FBI’s own definition of terrorism:
The unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a Government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.
The mass murder recalls the 1999 Columbine massacre, which killed 13 and happened approximately 30 miles away. The 2007 Virginia Tech shooting was a similarly deadly shooting, leading to 32 deaths and 17 injuries.
The 2011 Tucson, Arizona shooting of U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords and 19 others may turn out to be a similar case. The shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, is currently being forcibly medicated until he is fit to stand trial, which may not be in 2012. The former representative is recovering from a critical brain injury.
We can only hope for swift justice for the tragic victims of the Aurora shooting and for the solace of their families.
UPDATE 9:20am EST:
According to ABC News:
The suspect, James Holmes, 24, of Aurora, was caught by police in the parking lot of the Century 16 Movie Theaters, nine miles outside Denver, after police began receiving dozens of 911 calls at 12:39 a.m. MT. Police said the man appeared to have acted alone.”
Holmes’s mother, resident of San Diego, spoke with ABC News this morning, saying, “You have the right person.” She added, “I need to call the police. I need to fly out to Colorado.”
President Obama has released the following 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.”