Eyewitnesses have described seeing dead bodies, walking wounded and bleeding children after a masked gunman wearing a bulletproof vest walked into a packed theatre and opened fire on moviegoers.
The theatre in Aurora, Colorado, was full to capacity with people watching a midnight screening of the new Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises. Around 30 minutes into the screening a man hurled tear gas into the theatre and then started firing.
Aberneezer Mergia told Sky News: "As I looked around there were a couple of dead bodies and someone coughing blood. We were really scared and we just tried to get to the nearest car. We saw a police officer carrying a child. There was blood everywhere it was pretty horrific."
The scene outside the theatre in Aurora, Denver
Many people in the theatre initially thought that it was some kind of stunt that was part of the movie.
Paul Otermat, speaking to ABC News, described the initial confusion. He said: "I thought it was a promotional thing. But [the shooter] comes in and when he threw the tear gas initially and when the smoke came out from it, I knew something was wrong.
"It was really crazy, he just walked in pretty casually and just started firing."
"Then when he started firing, it was really, really loud. It was like Bam! Bam! Bam! It wasn't like rapid fire. It was just pointing and shooting.
"We saw him come in, throw tear gas and start shooting into the crowd as they exited.
"We dropped through the floor as soon as he started firing into the crowd and then we crawled out to a point where we thought he couldn't see us any more, and then we ran through the lobby and there were still shots being fired.
"We got out to the parking lot and left as quick as we could.
Moviegoers flee the scene
"[The cinema] was packed. I feel like there was only maybe seven to 10 seats open out of the whole movie theatre.
"We were lucky to be on the left side there and a fairly quick way out thereof. We were worried he was going to shoot us as we were getting to the exit.
"We dropped to the ground as soon as the shots started being fired and we crawled out and ran through the lobby and got to our car and drove off."
Too much blood & tears for one night.
— Sky Kim (@BadLil_Lady) July 20, 2012
A man speaking to Colorado's 9news told how a girl had described the gunman. He said: What she described sounded like madness. A man kicked through the door in a riot helmet with a bulletproof vest covered in all black with goggles.
"When she turned around she was slowly making his way up the stairs shooting people."
Jeremy Jojola, a journalist with Colorado's 9News spoke to these two men who were in the theatre at the time of the shooting
A teenage boy also speaking to 9news was attending the premiere with his sister and friend and were in theatre 8 next door to the theatre where the shooting started.
He said: "People were standing and going to leave. Me and my sister and my friend were wandering what was going on what was happening and at that point I saw something come through the wall objects just flew through the wall.
"People stood up and started checking themselves. A couple of people were walking away holding areas and I heard moaning like they were in pain and that's when I started to get worried.
"We didn't really know something was happening until someone came from the left entrance and told us we shouldn't go outside cause there was a guy with a gun out there."
Witnesses have described the shootings in Denver
When asked if any children had been injured he said: "A cop came through the door holding a little girl on her arms and she wasn't moving."
He added how he had overheard a girl talking to someone on the phone who said that there were bullet holes in the little girls back.
University Hospital confirms the youngest patient from #theatershooting is 3 months old
— 9NEWS Denver (@9NEWS) July 20, 2012
ABC News report that Aurora resident Brittany Jackson, was in the local emergency room when the shootings happened.
She said: "One poor guy had blood caked all over his face. He just was not responsive at all."
An Aurora police spokesman confirmed the number of casualties and added: "Most of us have never experienced anything like this before."
07/22/2012 8:48 PM EDT
Obama Speaks After Meeting With Victims
@ HuffPostPol :
Obama: Scripture says that he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more...
@ HuffPostPol :
Obama: We can all understand what it would be like to have someone that we love taken from us in this fashion
@ HuffPostPol :
Obama: I also had the chance to give folks some hugs and to shed some tears ... and also to share some laughs.
07/22/2012 8:30 PM EDT
Columbine Survivors Reach Out To Victims
The AP reports:
The images brought it all back for survivors of the 1999 Columbine massacre. The blood. The tears. The confusion and the heartache, the elusive search for a reason why.
Paralyzed in the Columbine shootings, Anne Marie Hochhalter, now 30, says friends still reach out to alert her to prepare for disturbing images on the news. She got a text message Friday morning when she woke up. Warning, it said. There was another one, this time close to home.
Hochhalter took a deep breath and turned on the TV.
"My heart just fell," Hochhalter said Sunday. "It brought back a lot – flashbacks from that day. At the time I was so hurt I wasn't watching the news, you know, watching it like other people were. But this time, I was right there, seeing it all."
Columbine students who survived what in 1999 was the worst school massacre in U.S. history are re-living their own experiences. And they're banding together to try to help. On Facebook and by phone, they are reaching out to people who witnessed Friday's early-morning slayings of 12 people at a movie theater in Aurora.
Young people were victims and witnesses in both shootings. The Columbine survivors are telling those at the movie theater that the road ahead of them won't be easy.
Click here to read more.
07/22/2012 8:29 PM EDT
Campaign Ads Off The Air
President Barack Obama's re-election team, maintaining an unofficial time-out on full-scale campaigning following a deadly shooting at a movie theater, said on Sunday it will keep its advertisements off the airwaves in Colorado for the rest of the week.
Obama and his Republican rival Mitt Romney both set aside the previously harsh tone of the November 6 election campaign to speak soothingly to the nation on Friday, after the shooting rampage that killed 12 at a midnight movie screening outside Denver.
Click here to read more.
07/22/2012 7:57 PM EDT
More On Obama's Visit
@ JordanGhawi :
Sat down with President Obama. He has been incredible. He too has agreed not to mention the shooter's name.
07/22/2012 6:23 PM EDT
Obama Lands In Colorado
The AP reports:
President Barack Obama dashed to Colorado on Sunday to meet with families of those gunned down in a movie theater and to hear from state and local officials about the shooting that left 12 people dead and dozens more injured.
Air Force One touched down at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora late Sunday afternoon for the president's hastily arranged 2 1/2-hour visit, which includes a private meeting with the victims' loved ones and perhaps a public comment about the shooting early Friday morning at a busy multiplex.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan and Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates were among those who greeted Obama at Buckley.
The president is expected to speak at 7:30 p.m. ET.
07/22/2012 6:20 PM EDT
Shooting Suspect Reportedly Not Cooperating
@ BreakingNews :
Police in Aurora, Colo. say shooting suspect James Holmes is not cooperating with authorities - @SkyNewsBreak
07/22/2012 12:49 PM EDT
First Video Of Shooting Suspect Emerges
ABC on Sunday aired a clip of shooting suspect James Eagen Holmes. The clip showed Holmes discussing the idea of "temporal illusion" at science camp when he was 18.
"It's an illusion that allows you to change the past," he says.
To watch the video, click here.
07/22/2012 12:31 PM EDT
Shooting Victims Identified
Authorities have identified the 12 victims who were killed early Friday morning in the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting.
The deceased included an aspiring sports reporter, a 6-year-old girl and a man celebrating his birthday.
For more about the victims, read the AP's report.
07/22/2012 12:22 PM EDT
LISTEN: Graphic Audio Of Colorado Shooting Aftermath
Audio of the first hour of the police and fire response to the Colorado shooting was made available this weekend via RadioReference.com.
To listen to the recordings, click here (warning: extremely graphic content).
07/22/2012 9:10 AM EDT
Official: Suspect's Gun Reportedly Jammed During Attack
James Holmes' gun jammed during the attack, a law enforcement source told the Associated Press.
The claim was made based on leftover bullets found in a magazine at the crime scene, the official said. The jam likely caused the suspect to change weapons in the middle of the attack.
More on this story here.
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