NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Many are still searching for answers following a devastating and deadly shooting at an Aurora, Colorado movie theater during a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises.”
Officials held a press briefing Friday night to provide updates on what is being called the “Colorado Movie Massacre.”
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Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper said the outpouring of support from across the country has been tremendous. He struggled to find the words to describe the horror of the situation, called the shooting an “act that defies description.”
Police said 24-year-old James Holmes walked into a movie theater and opened fire about 20 minutes into the movie. Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said 11 of the 58 people injured in the attack remain in critical condition. Twelve people were killed.
The latest developments include the fact that Holmes legally possessed four guns, which he bought from a local gun shop and thousands of rounds of ammunition, which he purchased online, Oates told reporters Friday night.
All were purchased in the last 60 days.
Authorities said that after rigorous efforts earlier Friday, they will on Saturday resume their attempt to enter Holmes’ apartment, which Oates said appears to be filled with “wires, trip wires, jars full of ammunition, jars full of liquid and things that look like mortar rounds.”
“I personally have never seen anything like what the pictures show us is in there,” Oates said.
RAY KELLY: SUSPECT SAID HE WAS ‘JOKER’
Earlier, New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the gunman suspected of attacking the crowd resembled Batman’s arch-villain “The Joker.”
“It clearly looks like a deranged individual. He had his hair painted red, he said he was ‘The Joker,’ obviously the ‘enemy’ of Batman,” Kelly said about the suspect, 24-year-old James Holmes, at a news conference Friday.
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Despite that, Oates would not elaborate further on Holmes’ description, other than to say he was dressed “entirely in black” and was wearing gas mask along with a ballistic helmet, a tactical ballistic vest, ballistic leggings and throat and groin protection in addition to black tactical gloves.
SHOOTING RESPONSE IN NYC
Kelly said the NYPD stepped up security at movie theaters around the city
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“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 in the five boroughs,” Kelly said.
HOW ARE NEW YORKERS REACTING?
Stella Asa, 13, and her friend Shawntay Cleventea of Manhattan had been waiting all summer long to see “The Dark Knight Rises,” but the thrill was gone for them.
“You know it kind of scares you, like you know, it could happen again,” Asa told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond. “But, you know, our mom told us to just you know go ahead and enjoy but, yeah, it kind of scares us.”
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Seeing the movie on Friday just didn’t feel right for Matt from Manhattan.
“Just feels weird to go, especially with all this that just happened,” he told Diamond.
Another theater goer thought metal detectors might be appropriate in the wake of the massacre.
INCREASED PATROLS AT AREA THEATERS
Nassau County police have increased patrols, which include canine units, emergency services personnel and members of the department’s special operations unit, at area theaters on Long Island.
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Several movie theaters in New Jersey are also stepping up security as a precaution following the mass shooting.
AMC Entertainment, which has movie theaters in Ridgefield Park, Paramus, Clifton and Wayne, says they are taking a closer look at security.
In Connecticut, State police spokesman Lt. J. Paul Vance said Friday that authorities are stepping up checks of high population venues. Vance said the public should be aware of the location of exits when at such gatherings and report anything suspicious to authorities.
Authorities say they have not received any threats.
Officer David Hartman, spokesman for the New Haven police, said officers will be assigned to a supplemental patrol around the Criterion Cinemas showing the movie, “The Dark Night Rises.” He wouldn’t provide details, but said the measure was designed to help the public feel safe.
“A presence will certainly be noticed,” Hartman said. “We are going to do what we can to make sure people feel as safe as possible.”
Meanwhile, AMC Theaters said they will no longer allow people wearing costumes or masks into movie theaters after the devastating shooting. AMC said anyone wanting a refund in light of the new policy will be granted one.
WHAT HAPPENED INSIDE THE THEATER?
Ten people were killed inside Century 16 Movie Theaters at the Aurora Town Center in Aurora, Colo. Two others died at local hospitals when the gas mask-wearing gunman stood at the front of the theater and fired into the crowd about 12:30 a.m. local time, police said.
A 3-month-old was among those hurt, CBS Denver reported. Police said earlier that 14 people had died, but later said that only 12 fatalities were confirmed.
While some witnesses said the gunman entered through a side-door emergency exit at the front of the theater, a federal law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Holmes bought a ticket and went into the theater as part of the crowd.
The official said Holmes then apparently propped open an exit door in the theater as the movie was playing, donned the aforementioned protective ballistic gear and opened fire. The attack was apparently so bizarre that some moviegoers at first thought they were watching Hollywood special effects.
As smoke from the canister spread, audience members watching the movie saw the silhouette of a person materialize near the screen, point a gun at the crowd and begin shooting, apparently without a word.
“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.
“There were bullet (casings) just falling on my head. They were burning my forehead,” Jennifer Seeger said, adding that the gunman, dressed like a SWAT team member, fired steadily except when he stopped to reload.
“Every few seconds it was just: Boom, boom, boom,” she said. “He would reload and shoot and anyone who would try to leave would just get killed.”
Seeger said she began crawling toward an exit when she saw a girl about 14 years old “lying lifeless on the stairs.”
Police, ambulances and emergency crews swarmed on the scene after frantic calls started flooding the 911 switchboard, officials said.
Holmes was taken into custody shortly after the shooting, police said, adding he didn’t resist when he was arrested.
The U.S. Department of Defense said three members of the U.S. Armed Forces were wounded in the shooting and one is unaccounted for.
The agency says a Navy sailor was injured and one sailor who was at the theater can’t be located. Two Air Force airmen were also wounded.
Aurora was named as one of the top 10 safest cities in America, according to the city’s website. Friday’s shooting was the worst mass shooting in Colorado since the Columbine High School massacre on April 20, 1999.
WHAT DO POLICE KNOW ABOUT THE ATTACK?
Police said Holmes’ car was parked in the rear of the theater and that he entered and exited the theater through an emergency door. There is also evidence that he may have done surveillance of the theater before the shooting, the source said.
The police chief said Holmes used at least three weapons in the attack, an assault rifle, a shotgun and a Glock handgun. A second pistol was found inside Holmes’ vehicle. Oates said he did not know exactly how many rounds were fired.
One rifle, two handguns, a knife, a bullet proof vest, a ballistic helmet, a gas device, a gas mask, military SWAT clothing and unidentified explosives were also found in Holmes’ car, a law enforcement source told CBS News.
The attack appears to have been planned well in advance, a law enforcement source told CBS News.
Oates said there’s no evidence of any other attackers and the FBI said there was no indication that the shooting had any connection to terrorism. Oates said police also checked for explosives in the parking lot and at the Century 16 theater and secured those areas.
After his arrest, Holmes told police about “possible explosives in his residence,” Oates said.
FBI agents and police used a hook-and-ladder fire truck to reach Holmes’ apartment. They put a camera at the end of a 12-foot pole inside the apartment and discovered the unit was booby-trapped. Authorities evacuated five buildings as they tried to figure how to disarm the flammable and explosive material.
The Aurora police chief is no stranger to handling these sorts of situations. Before moving to Colorado, Oates spent more than two decades in the NYPD.
WHO IS JAMES HOLMES?
Holmes has no known criminal record and previously lived in San Diego, CBS News reported. He graduated from high school in the San Diego area.
Oates said his only previous run-in with the law in Aurora was a traffic ticket for speeding.
He was a student at the University of Colorado in Denver until last month, said school spokeswoman Jacque Montgomery. She said he enrolled in the program in June 2011 and was in the process of withdrawing.
Neighbors said Holmes was a quiet individual who kept to himself, Oates said.
Officials also said Holmes was studying neuroscience in a Ph.D. program at the university’s graduate school.
NATION REACTS TO THE SHOOTING
President Barack Obama spoke about the shooting at what was supposed to be a campaign rally in Florida. He said the tragic shooting “reminds us of all the ways that we are united as one American family.”
“Our time here is limited and it is precious,” he said, adding that his administration was “committed to bringing whoever was responsible to justice, ensuring the safety of our people, and caring for those who have been wounded.”
He then asked for a moment of silence. Obama also canceled an appearance near Orlando, Fla., and was returning to Washington ahead of schedule.
“Our hearts break with the sadness of this unspeakable tragedy,” said GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who also altered his campaign schedule. “This is a time for each of us to look into our hearts and remember how much we love each other.”
Warner Brothers, the studio behind “The Dark Knight Rises,” also issued a statement:
“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.”
Dallas-based Cinemark, which owns the Aurora movie theater, said it is “deeply saddened about this tragic incident” and is working closely with law enforcement.
On his weekly WOR Radio appearance, Mayor Michael Bloomberg also spoke out about the shooting. He called on Obama and Romney to respond to the shooting by detailing their plans to improve gun control.
“Soothing words are nice, but maybe it’s time that the two people who want to be President of the United States stand up and tell us what they are going to do about it, because this is obviously a problem across the country,” Bloomberg said.
IS THERE TOO MUCH VIOLENCE IN MOVIES?
The argument about whether violent movies influence violent behavior is, perhaps, as old as movies themselves.
Forty years ago, writing in the New York Times, film critic Vincent Canby lamented that movie violence had reached an extreme that would be hard to surpass.
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More recently, times film critic A.O. Scott wrote that movie violence now exists for its own sake and can’t be rationally condemned or defended. He also wrote that the public’s taste for violence has migrated to the mainstream.
(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)