Gunman brings death, terror to Century 16 theater

Rhonda Moore
Posted 7/25/12

Details of a deadly shooting in an Aurora movie theater and the aftermath have emerged after the July 20 attack. James Eagan Holmes, 24, is suspected …

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Gunman brings death, terror to Century 16 theater


Details of a deadly shooting in an Aurora movie theater and the aftermath have emerged after the July 20 attack.

James Eagan Holmes, 24, is suspected of opening fire and killing 12 people at a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” at a Century 16 movie theater at Aurora Town Center. Fifty-eight people were injured during the rampage. Holmes appeared in court July 23 to be advised that he is facing murder charges.

Over the weekend, police disarmed booby traps in Holmes’ north Aurora apartment, and cleared the dwelling of ammunition after entering it. Shortly after the shooting, police arrested Holmes at the theater, where he was found clad in head-to-toe black, protective tactical gear, including a gas mask and tactical gloves. The Aurora resident was apprehended outside the theater and reportedly was armed with a Remington 12-gauge shotgun, two .40-caliber handguns and an AR-15 assault weapon.

Aurora Police Chief Daniel Oates said Holmes discharged at least two incendiary devices shortly after the movie began to distract the crowd. Holmes reportedly then opened fire, shooting dozens of people inside theater No. 9.

Some rounds penetrated the theater walls, wounding at least one person in an adjacent theater, Oates said. Shortly after the shooting began, police received “hundreds” of phone calls at the dispatch center and about 200 officers responded to the scene, Oates said. Inside the theater, it was chaos, according to witnesses.

Jamie Rohrs and Patricia Legarett had decided to take their two children, ages 4 months and 4 years old, to the midnight show for a rare family treat.

Rohrs described the hellish scene inside as “the last possible thing you think would have happened.”

“I saw the gun flash, and after that the gunman went out and came back in, and that was the moment you knew something was wrong because who does a prank like that?” Rohrs said. “It was just chaos, people were falling. It was like a dream. I was trying to figure out what to do. Was he going to shoot the baby?”

The children were asleep when the shooting started, and the couple frantically scrambled for cover in the dark. Between the two of them, they kept track of the baby, making their way to an exit in the hysteria that ensued.

“I just kept saying, ‘I’m not going to die,’” Legarett said. “I just knew I had to get out. The moment the shooting stopped, I just grabbed my daughter and I just got out as fast as I could. It was just so horrible.”

Rohrs and Legarett escaped with minor shrapnel wounds on their legs and clutched their children as they told their story. The couple described their experience hours after they escaped harm, their car still in the theater parking lot, part of what police were calling a massive crime scene.

Authorities believe Holmes was acting alone, and Aurora police were working with the help of more than 100 FBI agents on scene. By noon the day of the shooting, more than 200 witnesses had been interviewed, Oates said.

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents were involved in the investigation, collecting evidence and following leads beyond Colorado, Oates said.

“We are not speculating on any motive at this time,” he said. “We don’t see a connection to terrorism.”

Holmes is being held without bond at the Arapahoe County Detention Facility.


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