MULTIPLEX MASSACRE: 13 Dead After Shooting at Colorado ‘Batman’ Opening; UPDATE: Suspect Identified by Police as 24-Year-Old James Holmes; UPDATE: ABC News Interviews Suspect’s Mother? UPDATE: Despicable — Stephanopoulos Implicates Tea Party in Tragedy
Posted on | July 20, 2012 | 46 Comments
At least 14 people are dead in the Denver suburb of Aurora, Colorado, after a gunman opened fire inside a movie theater.
UPDATE: Ten people were shot dead inside the theater, which was crowded with patrons watching the opening of the new “Batman” movie; while four more victims died at local hospitals or en route to hospitals. Police say 50 others were wounded.
UPDATE II: CBS News reports:
The violent and chaotic scene erupted about 12:30 a.m. local time as a gunman stood at the front of one of the Century 16 theaters at the Aurora Mall where the latest Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises” was playing, police said.
“Witnesses tell us he released some sort of canister. They heard a hissing sound and some gas emerged and the gunman opened fire,” Oates said at a news conference.
Police, ambulances and emergency crews swarmed on the scene after frantic calls started flooding the 911 switchboard, officials said.
Officers found the gunman near a car behind the theater.
“A gas mask, rifle, handgun at least one additional weapon (were) found inside” he said.
There are reports that the gunman was a 24-year-old resident of North Aurora. He is in custody and police reportedly have evacuated the apartment complex where the suspect lived.
UPDATE III: NBC News reports:
An FBI official told NBC News that the agency was working with local authorities on the investigation, but that there was no early indication of a link to politically-motivated terrorism. President Obama had been notified by counterterrorism chief John Brennan and was aware of the incident, KUSA said.
Police raiding the theater in the hunt for the suspect had to ask for gasmasks.
“Get us some damn gas masks for theater 9, we can’t get in it,” one officer radioed back to emergency dispatch, according to an excerpt aired on KUSA, during the operation.
There are reports that young children are among those killed during this unexplained murder spree.
UPDATE IV: Blogger Jaime Marshall was inside Theater 8, adjoining the theater in which the shootings occurred. She tweets that she and her date actually had tickets for Theater 9, but decided instead to go to the less-crowded theater next door. Both theaters were showing The Dark Knight Rises.
UPDATE V: Permit me to state that, so far, there is no information about the gunman’s motives. All we have been told so far is that the gunman is a 6-foot-tall white male. The fact that law enforcement have reportedly ruled out political terrorism would seem to suggest that this is a “deranged loner” type of incident. If there is any other motive, we will learn it in due course but, based on past experience in covering such crimes, I advise commenters it is best not to speculate on motives.
UPDATE VI: The Denver Post reports:
A 24-year-old suspect in is custody and an apartment building in north Aurora connected to the suspect was being evacuated and searched for possible explosives . . .
[T]he man in custody had made a statement about possible explosives in his residence.
Police have blocked off a three-block area around an apartment complex in north Aurora.
Police arrested a man believed to be the shooter in a rear parking lot of the theater, Frank Fania, a police spokesman, told CNN. The suspect was not immediately identified, though Fania said he was believed to be in his early 20s.
“He did not resist. He did not put up a fight,” Fania said. Police seized a rifle and a handgun from the suspect, and another gun was found in the theater, he said.
UPDATE VII: Linked by Bill Quick at Daily Pundit, who eschews caution as to the gunman’s motives. Until we get some more definite information, I again urge commenters to stick to the facts. Early reports on incidents like this tend to be confusing. If you wait a few hours — at least until the suspect is named — questions of motive will become easier to answer.
UPDATE VIII: OK, we now have a name for the suspected gunman, ABC News reports:
The young man who is in custody after allegedly gunning down 12 people in a mass shooting spree overnight in Aurora, Colorado has been identified as local resident James Holmes, according to federal authorities.
Law enforcement officials and witnesses told ABC News Holmes wore what appeared to be a bullet-proof vest and riot-type mask as he opened fire in a movie theater with three weapons at a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises.” In addition to the 12 deaths, at least 50 people were injured, according to police.
Local news reports showed aerial video of police cautiously searching Holmes’ apartment, some five miles from the Century Aurora 16 theater, as the suspect reportedly told police he had explosives inside.
Note that this ABC News report reduces the number of dead to 12, instead of the 14 that were previously reported by other news organizations. Even the number of victims tends to be confused in early reports, which is why caution is so important.
UPDATE IX: While it is unwise to speculate on the killer’s motive, commenters point out that this “Batman” movie aroused intense emotion even before it was released. A reviewer at Rotten Tomatoes who panned the film was subjected to death threats from commenters:
For Rotten Tomatoes, that was enough. The website shut down the commenting feature on all “Dark Knight Rises” reviews. Rotten Tomatoes Editor-in-chief Matt Atchiity wrote, “There are plenty of other things to get angry about, like war, famine, poverty and crime. But not movie reviews.”
“These ‘crazy people’ have already locked themselves into liking the film,” says Collider.com film reviewer Matt Goldeberg. “They’ve been hit with so much marketing from the studios that they feel like they have invested time, energy, and passion into the film even before they have seen it. For someone to say, ‘it’s not good’ is not an acceptable answer to them.”
“I told my friend `we’ve got to get out of here,’ but then he shot people trying to go out the exits,” Jennifer Seeger told NBC’s “Today.” She said the shooter made his way up the aisle, firing as he went, saying nothing.
Some of those injured are children, including a 3-month-old infant who was shot.
Police earlier said 14 people were dead, but later revised the number to at least 12. . . .
Witness Shayla Roeder said she saw a young teenage girl on the ground bleeding outside the theater.
“She just had this horrible look in her eyes …. We made eye contact and I could tell she was not all right,” Roeder said.
Via Hot Air Headlines.
UPDATE XI: Watching the TV news this morning, you understand why speculation about motive is so common. Cable TV hosts in a New York studio have to fill airtime with something, and they bring on “experts” who start blabbing about psychological or political motives.
My opinion of “experts” is nearly as low as my opinion of “TV news.”
It’s a professional bias. During more than two decades in the newspaper business, I long ago became accustomed to, and resentful of, the idiotic sensationalism of TV talking heads. Especially when breaking news like this happens, the talking-head compulsion to keep blabbing, interviewing “experts” and endlessly re-running the same video footage, cable TV news is just about the worst possible way to gather information. Give me facts and stop speculating!
You’ll notice that “why” comes at the end of the classic “5 Ws” formula: Who, what, when, where and why. Until we have some clear indications about the motive, it is ridiculous to “report” guesswork, even if “experts” are doing the guessing. This reminds me of another Colorado story:
In April 1999, newspaper op-ed pages, weekly news magazines and cable-TV networks were swamped with “experts” offering competing theories for the massacre at Columbine High School. Psychologists, culture critics, religious leaders, gun-control activists, think-tank wonks – for about two weeks after the shootings, the expert analysts were ubiquitous.
Ultimately, however, the best explanation of Columbine came from comedian Chris Rock: “Whatever happened to crazy?”
“What, you can’t be crazy no more? Did we eliminate ‘crazy’ from the dictionary? . . . When l was a kid, they used to separate the crazy kids from everybody. When l was a kid, the crazy kids went to school in a little-a– bus. They had a class at the end of the school . . . Just in case they went crazy, they would only hurt other crazy kids. And we was all safe.”
UPDATE XII: More about the Aurora suspect, James Holmes:
The gunman, who was wearing a bullet-proof vest and dressed entirely in black, was not on any watch list that would have alerted authorities that he was dangerous, officials said. The incident was not believed to have any connection to international terrorism, they added.
The car Holmes was driving had Tennessee plates, but police sources told NBC News that they believed he had been living locally. Federal authorities told NBC News that Holmes has no military history.
Here’s NBC News video:
UPDATE XIII: Thanks to a commenter for this news item:
A San Diego woman identifying herself as James Holmes’s mother spoke briefly with ABC News this morning.
She had awoken unaware of the news of the shooting and had not been contacted by authorities. She immediately expressed concern that her son may have been involved.
“You have the right person,” she said.
“I need to call the police,” she added. “I need to fly out to Colorado.”
“You have the right person.” If this is accurate and authentic, the reaction of the suspect’s mother may indicate a history of mental illness. Otherwise, why would she have reason to believe her son was actually involved?
UPDATE XIV: Today’s obligatory media bias emetic:
On Good Morning America, ABC News’ Brian Ross and George Stephanolpoulos suggested that the Tea Party might be connected to the mass shootings early this morning . . .
Right: Because Tea Party people hate “Batman” movies. Deficit spending, high taxes, government regulation and “Batman” movies.
Meanwhile, we have actual news: A 6-year-old girl wounded in the shooting has now died, bringing the official death total to 13.
UPDATE XV: Linked by The Lonely Conservative, who bemoans the politicization of this horrific crime. This is something that gripes me about the 21st-century media: Everything is now political.
Why? Because so many people in the media come to their jobs with a political agenda, rather than a commitment to facts. Not that facts and politics can’t co-exist, but some people have a bad habit of putting the political cart in front of the factual horse.
If everything — everything — is about scoring points for your political “team,” you probably need to stay the hell away from the news business.
UPDATE XVI: Linked by the Rio Norte Line — thanks!
New label for the coordinated Lefty effort to blame conservatives for any tragedy: Smyramid Scheme
— Chris Smith (@smitty_one_each) July 20, 2012