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Colorado Batman Movie Shooting Suspect Was PhD Student

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Twelve people were killed and 59
were injured in Aurora, Colo., during a
sold-out midnight premier of the new
Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises"
when 24-year-old James Holmes
unloaded four weapons' full of ammunition into the unsuspecting
crowd. The number of casualties makes the
incident the largest mass shooting in
U.S. history. Holmes, a graduate student at a
nearby college with a clean arrest
record, entered the movie auditorium
wearing a ballistics helmet, bullet-
proof vest, bullet-proof leggings, gas
mask and gloves. He detonated multiple smoke bombs, and then
began firing at viewers in the sold-out
auditorium, police said today. Bullets from the spree tore through
the theater and into adjoining
theaters, where at least one other
person was struck and injured. Ten
members of "The Dark Knight Rises"
audience were killed in theater, while two others died later at area hospitals.
Numerous patrons were in critical
condition at six local hospitals, the
Aurora police said this afternoon. Holmes was apprehended within
minutes of the 12:39 a.m. shooting at
his car behind the theater, where
police found him in full riot gear and
carrying three weapons, including a
AR-15 assault rifle, which can hold upwards of 100 rounds, a Remington
12 gauge shot gun, and a .40 Glock
handgun. A fourth handgun was
found in the vehicle. Agents from the
federal bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco,
and Firearms are tracing the weapons. According to police sources, Holmes
told the officers arresting him that he
was "The Joker," referring to the
villain in the second installment of the
Batman movie trilogy, "The Dark
Knight." He also warned police that he had booby-trapped his apartment,
leading officers to evacuate the Aurora
apartment building. Police Chief Dan Oates said today that
police and bomb squads have found a
large number of explosive devices
and trip wires at Holmes' apartment
and have not yet decided how to
proceed without setting off explosions. Read More: One Victim Had Narrowly Escaped Toronto Shooting "The pictures we have from inside the
apartment are pretty disturbing
considering how elaborate the
apartment is booby trapped," police
said outside of the apartment complex
today. The "flammable and explosive" materials could have blown up
Holmes' apartment building and the
ones near it, police said. The apartment complex is home
exclusively to University of Colorado
Medical Center students, patients, and
staff members, residents tell ABC
News. Moviegoer Christopher Ramos today
recalled the real-life horror of the
midnight premiere of the latest Batman
movie, "The Dark Knight Rises," in
Aurora, Colo., as a gunman decked in
riot gear set off smoke bombs and opened fire on the unsuspecting
audience. "People were running everywhere,
running on top of me, like kicking me,
jumping over me. And there were
bodies on the ground," Ramos said. "I
froze up. I was scared. I honestly
thought I was going to die." "The image in our heads is stuck in
there. I still have the ticket right here
and honestly, I'm never going to
forget this night at all. Because it was
the first time I saw something that was
real. Like a real-life nightmare that was there, not dreaming of," Ramos told
ABC News today. Witnesses in the movie theater said
Holmes saw smoke and heard
gunshots that they thought were part
of the movie until they saw Holmes
standing in front of the screen, after
entering from an emergency exit. Holmes methodically stalked the aisles
of the theater, shooting people at
random, as panicked movie-watchers
in the packed auditorium tried to
escape, witnesses said. At one point the shooter exited the
theater only to wait outside the doors
and pick off patrons as they tried to
exit, witness Jennifer Seeger told
"Good Afternoon America." Photos: Shooting "Dark Knight Rises" Screening in Aurora, Colorado "You just smelled smoke and you just
kept hearing it, you just heard bam
bam bam, non-stop. The gunman
never had to reload. Shots just kept
going, kept going, kept going," one
witness told ABC News. "I'm with coworkers and we're on the
floor praying to God we don't get shot,
and the gunshots continue on and on,
and when the sound finally stopped,
we started to get up and people were
just bleeding," another theatergoer said. The suspected shooter will face his
first court appearance next week,
according to district attorney Carol
Chambers. Holmes, originally of San Diego, moved
to Aurora to pursue his Ph.D. at the
University of Colorado medical center,
living just blocks from the hospital in
an apartment that police say is now
laced with explosives and being searched by HazMat teams. Federal law enforcement sources tell
ABC News that Holmes bought a ticket
to the movie, slipped out of the theater
once it began and propped open the
emergency exit before gathering his
weapons and gear and coming back into the theater. Once inside, he
opened fire. 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." The woman and her husband later
released a statement saying their
"hearts go out to those who involved
in this tragedy and to the families and
friends of those involved. We are still
trying to process this information and we appreciate that people will respect
our privacy." The highly-anticipated third
installment of the Batman trilogy
opened to packed auditoriums
around the country at midnight
showings on Friday morning, and
features a villain named Bane who wears a bulletproof vest and gas
mask. Trailers for the movie show
explosions at public events including
a football game. Though many
moviegoers dressed in costume to
attend the opening night screening, police have made no statements about
any connection between the
gunman's motives and the movie. Read More: NRA Deletes Tweet After Shooting Police in New York have intensified
security around showings of the film
throughout the five boroughs today,
with Police Commissioner Ray Kelley
saying that "as a precaution against
copycats and to raise the comfort levels among movie patrons in the
wake of the horrendous shooting in
Colorado, the New York City Police
Department is providing coverage at
theaters where the 'The Dark Knight
Rises' is playing." The Paris premiere of the movie has
been cancelled in the wake of the
shootings. "Warner Bros. and the
filmmakers are 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," the movie's
producers said in a statement. Witnesses watching movies in theaters
next to the one where the shooting
took place said bullets tore through
the theater walls and they heard
screaming. Read More: Obama and Romney Respond to Shooting "The suspect throws tear gas in the air,
and as the tear gas appears he started
shooting," said Lamar Lane, who was
watching the midnight showing of the
movie with his brother. "It was very
hard to breathe. I told my brother to take cover. It took awhile. I started
seeing flashes and screaming, I just
saw blood and people yelling and a
quick glimpse of the guy who had a
gas mask on. I was pushed out. There
was chaos, we started running." One witness said she saw people
dropping to the ground after the
gunshots began. "We were maybe 20 or 30 minutes
into the movie and all you hear, first
you smell smoke, everybody thought
it was fireworks or something like
that, and then you just see people
dropping and the gunshots are constant," witness Christ Jones told ABC's Denver affiliate KMGH . "I heard at least 20 to 30 rounds within that
minute or two." A man who talked to a couple who
was inside the theater told ABC News,
"They got up and they started to run
through the emergency exit, and that
when she turned around, she said all
she saw was the guy slowly making his way up the stairs and just firing at
people, just picking random people,"
he said. "The gunshots continued to
go on and on and then after we didn't
hear anything...we finally got up and
there was people bleeding, there was people obviously may have been
actually dead or anything, and we just
ran up out of there, there was chaos
everywhere." Witnesses and victims were taken to
Gateway High School for questioning. Hundreds of police and FBI agents are
involved in the investigation. A senior
official who is monitoring the situation
in Washington said that early guidance
based on the early snapshot of this
man's background indicated that this act does not appear to be linked to
radical terrorism or anything related to
Islamic terrorism. Dr. Comilla Sasson, at the University of
Colorado Hospital where many of the
victims were taken, said they are
currently operating on nine critical
patients and have treated 22 in all. She
called the hospital "an absolutely terrifying scene all night." "The good news is that the 3-month-
old has actually been discharged
home and is in the care of their
parents In a statement, President Obama said,
"Michelle and I are shocked and
saddened by the horrific and tragic
shooting in Colorado. Federal and
local law enforcement are still
responding, and my administration will do everything that we can to
support the people of Aurora in this
extraordinarily difficult time. We are
committed to bringing whoever was
responsible to justice, ensuring the
safety of our people, and caring for those who have been wounded." For continuing coverage on "Tragedy
in Colorado: The Batman Massacre,"
tune in to "World News," "20/20" and
"Nightline." Matthew Mosk contributed to this