By Gil Kaufman
Fans lined up to catch the midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” across the country last night, but a tragic incident took the lives of at least 12 people when a gunman opened fire in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. Members of the hip-hop community have continued to send out their prayers to families affected by the shooting.
Police have identified the 24-year-old man in custody who allegedlyopened fire? at a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colorado, killing 12 and injuring more than 38. According to ABC News, the man’s name is James Holmes and he has been identified as a local resident.
At press time law enforcement officials had entered Holmes’ apartment using a fire engine ladder in a search for additional evidence. Along with police detectives, the FBI was on the scene at the apartment complex, which is five miles from the site of the shooting at the Century Aurora 16 theater. No explosives were found in the apartment during what was described as the “protective sweep,” but there were reportedly “items of interest” removed.
Suspect Holmes was taken into custody by police in the parking lot of the theater and a San Diego woman identifying herself as his mother said she woke up unaware of the news about the shooting and had not been contacted by authorities. But when she heard about the incident she immediately expressed concern that her son may have been involved. “You have the right person,” she told ABC News. “I need to call the police … I need to fly out to Colorado.”
Witnesses said the shooter kicked his way through an emergency exit near the front of the theater about 20 minutes into the midnight screening of the final film in the “Dark Knight” trilogy wearing what appeared to be a bullet-proof vest and a gas mask as he opened fire with a shotgun and an AK-47-style automatic weapon. Police said they also found two handguns at the scene. Little is known about the alleged suspect at press time or his possible motives, but witnesses said that in addition to randomly shooting into the audience, he threw a canister into the theater that released some sort of gas, with some victims reported to have suffered from shrapnel-type wounds.
The studio behind the movie released a statement on Friday morning that read, “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.”
Local police revised the death toll in the incident from 14 to 12 on Friday morning, with the number of wounded revised from 50 to 38. The range of those hurt in the incident spanned a three-month-old baby who was said to be in good condition to children aged six and up, teenagers and adults up to 45 years-old.
Aurora is less than 20 miles from Littleton, scene of the horrific Columbine High School shootings that left 13 teenagers dead in 1999.
Witnesses said they were initially confused by the sound of weapons because there were guns being fired on screen at the time the gunfire erupted, but that the gravity of the situation quickly became apparent as the wounded called out for help. One man who was in an adjoining theater told CNN that he saw bullets rip through the wall and could smell the incendiary device that was set off next door.
The FBI has at least 100 agents on the scene and they don’t believe that a second shooter was involved in the incident. Both President Obama? and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney released statements about the shooting.
Members of the hip-hop community reacted to the news on Twitter.
Devastated by the Colorado movie theatre killings. My heart hurts,”
@JanelleMonae: wrote, adding a link to the news story, while Busta Rhymes retweeted her. @Tyrese These are really the end of our days. People devious crimes are getting worst and worst.. In a theater.? My prayers to the family I’m so sad. @AlLindstrom “Watch where the media goes on the subject of gun control and the mentally disturbed issue in the next few weeks, they to blame as well” @JustBlaze “Regardless of all the differing opinions. Many lost their lives last night. Dont lose focus on the petty issues. There’s a bigger picture.”