Police: Gunman Kills 12 at Colorado Screening of 'The Dark Knight Rises'

1:43 AM PST 07/20/2012 by Georg Szalai
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UPDATED: According to local police, 71 were shot, about 50 were wounded, with 12 killed; the suspect is in custody.

A masked gunman shot dead 12 people and wounded dozens more at a screening of new Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colo., police said Friday morning.

A police representative said in a press conference picked up by various news networks that around 50 were at local hospitals with injuries. Reuters, citing local radio station KOA, had said 10 were killed at the scene. Others died at local hospitals. Sky News in the U.K. reported that one of the casualties was a six-year-old child.

NBC station 9 News in Colorado reported at around 2am PT Friday that the suspect was in police custody.

The suspect wore a gas mask - similar to the film's villain Bane - and opened fire at the movie theater in a mall in the Denver suburb of Aurora, various news sources reported. He also set off a smoke or tear gas bomb, according to some reports. The suspect's name is James Holmes, a 24-year old student from California who moved to Colorado in 2011.

Police said at a press conference that he was carrying an AR-15 assault rifle, Remmington 12-guage shotgun, 40-caliber glock handgun; he also had a 40-caliber glock in the car. Aurora police Chief Dan Oates told reporters that he was taken into custody without significant protest. His car was parked right outside the theater.

The screening was reportedly a midnight showing of the highly anticipated movie, which wraps up Christopher Nolan's Batman's trilogy for Warner Bros. The gunman walked in via an emergency exit early in the movie, reports said.

Representatives for Warner Bros. and corporate parent Time Warner couldn't immediately be reached.

The police said the suspect carried a rifle, a handgun and at least one more weapon. They were searching the area around the theater, particularly a parking garage, for possible bombs. Police also said that the suspect told them he had explosives in his home, which they were planning to search.

Sky News interviewed an eyewitness who said the suspect wore a black jacket, some body armor, "walked in pretty casually" and spread tear gas before starting to shoot at the audience, which included children.

A KOA representative told Sky News in the U.K. that the audience at the Century Aurora Theatre in Aurora at first "thought the gunshots were part of the movie."

Initial reports mentioned a possible second attacker, but police said the gunman walked into one screening room, with damage also hitting an adjacent screening room.

The FBI reportedly is part of the investigation, but officials did not mention any possible terrorism connection. 

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai

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