On July 20, 2012, a mass shooting occurred inside of a Century movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, during a midnight screening of the film The Dark Knight Rises. A gunman, dressed in tactical clothing, set off tear gas grenades and shot into the audience with multiple firearms, killing 12 people and injuring 70 others. The sole suspect, James Eagan Holmes, was arrested outside the cinema minutes later. It was the deadliest shooting in Colorado since the Columbine High School massacre in 1999.
The shooting occurred in theater 9 at the Century 16 multiplex (operated by Cinemark), located at the Town Center at Aurora shopping mall at 14300 E. Alameda Avenue. Police said the shooter bought a ticket, entered the theater, and sat in the front row; about 20 minutes into the film, he left the building through an emergency exit door, which he propped open with a plastic tablecloth holder.
He allegedly then went to his car, which was parked near the exit door, changed into protective clothing, and retrieved his guns. About 30 minutes into the film, police say, around 12:30 am, he reentered the theater through the exit door. He was dressed in black and wore a gas mask, a load-bearing vest (not to be confused with a bulletproof vest), a ballistic helmet, bullet-resistant leggings, a bullet-resistant throat protector, a groin protector and tactical gloves. Initially, few in the audience considered the masked figure a threat. He appeared to be wearing a costume, like other audience members who had dressed up for the screening. Some believed that the gunman was playing a prank, while others thought that he was part of a special effects installation set up for the film’s premiere as a publicity stunt by the studio or theater management.
It was also said that the gunman threw two canisters emitting a gas or smoke, partially obscuring the audience members’ vision, making their throats and skin itch, and causing eye irritation. He then fired a 12-gauge Remington 870 Express Tactical shotgun, first at the ceiling and then at the audience. He also fired a Smith & Wesson M&P15 semi-automatic rifle with a 100-round drum magazine, which malfunctioned after reportedly firing about 45 rounds. Finally, he fired a Glock 22 40-caliber handgun. He shot first to the back of the room, and then toward people in the aisles. A bullet passed through the wall and hit three people in the adjacent theater 8, which was screening the same film. Witnesses said the multiplex’s fire alarm system began sounding soon after the attack began and staff told people in theater 8 to evacuate. One witness said that she was hesitant to leave because someone yelled that there was someone shooting in the lobby and that they should not leave.
The first phone calls to emergency services via 9-1-1 were made at 12:39 am. Police arrived within 90 seconds and found at least three .40-caliber handgun magazines, a shotgun and a large drum magazine on the floor of the theater. Some people reported the shooting via tweets or text messaging rather than calling the police. Sgt. Stephen Redfearn, one of the first police officers on the scene, decided not to wait for ambulances and sent victims to area hospitals in squad cars.
About 12:45 am, police apprehended Holmes behind the cinema, next to his car, without resistance. He was initially mistaken as another police officer because of the tactical clothing he was wearing. According to two federal officials, he had dyed his hair red and called himself “the Joker”, although authorities later declined to confirm this. Three days later, at his first court appearance in Centennial, Colorado, Holmes had reddish-orange hair. The officers found several firearms in the theater and inside the car, including another Glock 22 handgun.Following his arrest, he was initially jailed at Arapahoe County Detention Center, under suicide watch. The police interviewed more than 200 witnesses. Investigators say that the shooter acted alone and was not part of a larger group or terrorist organization.
When apprehended, Holmes told the police that he had booby-trapped his apartment with explosive devices before heading to the movie theater. Police then evacuated five buildings surrounding his Aurora residence, about 5 miles (8 km) north of the cinema. The apartment complex is limited to University of Colorado Medical Center students, patients, and employees. One day after the shooting, officials disarmed an explosive device wired to the apartment’s front entrance, allowing a remotely controlled robot to enter and disable other explosives. The apartment held more than 30 homemade grenades, wired to a control box in the kitchen, and 10 gallons of gasoline.
Neighbors reported loud music from the apartment around midnight on the night of the massacre, and one went to his door to tell him she was calling the police; she stated that the door seemed to be unlocked, but she chose not to open it. A law enforcement official said that a Batman mask was found inside the apartment. On July 23, police finished collecting evidence from the apartment. Two days later, residents were allowed to return to the four surrounding buildings, and six days later, residents were allowed to move back into the formerly booby-trapped building.
Eighty-two people were shot or otherwise wounded, reported by mainstream news as the most victims of any mass shooting in United States history. Four people’s eyes were irritated by the tear gas grenades, and eight others injured themselves while fleeing the theater. The massacre was the deadliest shooting in Colorado since the Columbine High School massacre on April 20, 1999.
Twelve people were killed in the shooting. Ten died at the scene and two more in local hospitals. Those killed were:
- Jonathan Blunk, age 26
- Alexander J. Boik, age 18
- Jesse Childress, age 29
- Gordon Cowden, age 51
- Jessica Ghawi, age 24
- John Larimer, age 27
- Matt McQuinn, age 27
- Micayla Medek, age 23
- Veronica Moser-Sullivan, age 6
- Alex Sullivan, age 27
- Alexander C. Teves, age 24
- Rebecca Wingo, age 31
Almost two months earlier, Jessica Ghawi narrowly avoided a shooting at the Eaton Centre in Toronto, which killed two people and injured several others.
The youngest person injured during the shooting was a four-month-old boy who was not shot. Ashley Moser, Veronica Moser-Sullivan’s mother, was critically injured in the shooting and miscarried a week after the attack.
The injured were treated at Children’s Hospital Colorado, Denver Health Medical Center, The Medical Center of Aurora, Parker Adventist Hospital, Rose Medical Center, Swedish Hospital, and University Hospital. On July 25, three of the five hospitals treating victims announced that they would limit medical bills or forgive them entirely.
The Community First Foundation collected more than $5 million for a fund for victims and their families. In September, victims and their families received surveys asking about their preferences for how collected funds should be distributed, either by dividing it equally among victims or through a needs-assessment process.On November 16, 2012, the Aurora Victim Relief Fund announced each claimant will receive $220,000.
Information in this written post was obtained from wikipedia and is only as valid as that site reports.