Suspect Bought 4 Guns Used In Mass Shooting In Last 60 Days
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AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – The man suspected of opening fire in an Aurora movie theater just after midnight, killing 12 and leaving 58 others injured, bought all four of his guns legally in the past two months.
The shooting happened at about 12:39 a.m. at the Town Center in Aurora at the Century 16 theater on East Alameda Avenue.
Reports first came in that there were explosions in the theater showing the new Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises.” Shots then rang out, and a frantic scene followed.
Police said a gunman with a gas mask on and dressed in black shot dozens and dozens of people. Authorities say the suspect, James Holmes, 24, killed 10 people inside the theater complex and that two others died after they were taken from the scene.
“Mr. Holmes was apprehended next to a white Hyundai parked in the back of the theater. And he was apprehended with three weapons in the car and one was left at the scene inside the theater,” said Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates.
Holmes was booked into the Arapahoe County Jail at 3:40 p.m. Friday. Holmes is expected to appear in court next week.
“An AR-15 assault rifle, a Remington 870 12-gauge shot gun and a .40 caliber Glock handgun. We believe those three weapons were used in the scene and another .40 caliber Glock handgun was found in the car. We’re not sure if that was also used in the scene,” said Oates.
When asked how many rounds had been fired, Oates replied, “We have no capability right now of calculating that number. There were many, many rounds fired.”
“We believe that as part of this assault, Mr. Holmes set off two devices to distract the crowd. They ignited in some form and released some irritant or smoke,” said Oates.
Those injured were rushed to six area hospitals that include Rose Medical Center, University of Colorado Hospital, Swedish Medical Center, Denver Health Medical Center, Swedish Medical Center, Medical Center of Aurora, Children’s Hospital and Parker Adventist.
As of 10 p.m. Friday the names of only two people who were killed were confirmed by CBS4. One was a male named Alex Sullivan, 27, of Aurora, and another was a Metro State University of Denver named Jessica Ghawi.
Eight of those injured were in critical condition Friday evening.
The U.S. Department of Defense says three members of the U.S. Armed Forces were wounded in a movie theater shooting in Colorado and one is unaccounted for.
The agency says a Navy sailor was injured and a male sailor who was at the theater early Friday morning cannot be located. The sailors are part of a Navy Cyber Command unit at Buckley Air Force base in Aurora.
Two Air Force airmen based at Buckley were also wounded, but their specific unit hasn’t been released.
The Defense Department said Holmes is not a past or current member of any branch or component of the Armed Forces.
The shooting happened in theater No. 9 but some bullets went through the walls of that theater.
“At least one person was hit inside the adjoining theater,” said Oates.
Police do not have a specific count on how many people were inside the theater complex at the time of the shootings. There were four showings of “The Dark Knight Rises” going on at that time and they were all sold out.
“We are not looking for any other suspects,” said Oates. “We are confident that he acted alone. However we will do a thorough investigation to be absolutely sure that is the case.”
How Holmes entered the theater is still under investigation and any motive for the attack is unknown.
Hundreds of calls came into 911 after the shooting occurred.
“Within roughly one minute to a minute and a half police officers were on scene and apprehended Mr. Holmes in the back of the theater,” said Oates. “There were approximately 25 officers on scene within minutes.”
More than 50 detectives responded to the scene to work with the hundreds of officers as well as 50 victim’s advocates. More than 200 witnesses have been interviewed so far as part of the investigation.
Holmes’ apartment at 1690 Paris Street in Aurora was also part of the investigation.
“Our investigation determined that his apartment is booby trapped with various incendiary and chemical devices and apparent trip wires,” said Oates.
Bomb squads were working on detonating an incendiary device inside the apartment. Five surrounding buildings were evacuated as a precaution.
The FBI is assisting local and state authorities with the investigation and also looking at possible connections to other cities.
“The FBI has approximately 100 folks on scene closely integrated with Aurora Police Department,” said one FBI Special Agent in Charge Jim Yacone at the news conference. “The ATF is here in force with more than 25 folks. We are doing interviews and also collecting evidence and we are trying to run leads that span beyond Colorado at this point.”
The FBI is hoping to rule out any form of terrorism in their investigation.
“I want to emphasize at this point we do not see a nexus to terrorism but we are continuing to look and we are being as cautious as possible with the investigation as we move forward,” said Yacone.
Anyone with additional information about the suspect or who witnesses the attack is asked to call the Aurora Police Department Tipline at 303-739-1862.
Aurora Mental Health has provided professionals for those who feel traumatized by the event. Help can be reached by calling a special hotline set up for the aftermath of the shooting at 303-617-2300.
“Aurora mental help center will stay open 24 hours a day for this weekend,” said Arapahoe County District Attorney Carol Chambers. “They should seek some counseling and resources if they’ve been victims it’s to be expected. If there are financial issues that should not stop them.”
Gov. John Hickenlooper said this act shouldn’t keep Coloradans afraid.
“We have to realize that we can’t allow people who are aberrations of nature take away the that we enjoy,” said Hickenlooper. “We will come back stronger than ever, though obviously it will be a very hard process.”
Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan said this was a tragic day for the Aurora community, “Our hearts go out to them… No matter how much we do now we wish we had done more.”
“We will get back on our feet and we will move ahead. We’ve taken a blow today, but we will get back on our feet,” said Hogan.
The incident is one of the worst mass shootings in the United States since 32 people were killed in 2007 on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Va. In 1999, 13 people were killed in the Columbine High School massacre that happened about 25 miles southwest of Friday morning’s attack.
Warner Bros., the studio behind “The Dark Knight Rises,” issued a statement Friday morning: “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.” (Full Story on CBSLosAngeles.com)
Warner Bros. also canceled the Paris Premiere screening of the film and all interviews with the cast and crew scheduled for Friday.
Locally, major movie theater chains in the Denver metro area told CBS4 that all scheduled screenings of “The Dark Knight Rises” would go on as planned.
Cinemark USA, the company that owns the Century 16 Theater, said they are working with police in the investigation. Cinemark owns 298 theaters across the country and four in Colorado.