NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) - The Aurora Police Department detonated shooting suspect James Holmes’ apartment building on Saturday
PHOTOS: Colorado Theater Massacre
At 11:45 p.m., police and firefighters attempted to enter the booby-trapped apartment. 45 minutes later, cops confirmed that they were successful in defeating the first threat, which means that they defeated the first trip wire and the first incendiary device.
Roughly an hour later, a loud blast was heard in the area, and the Aurora Police Department said that the detonation was successful at Holmes’ apartment.
“We are hopeful to have eliminated the major remaining threats,” a spokesman for the Aurora Police Department said.
He did acknowledge, however, that many hazards remain in the shooting suspect’s apartment.
Holmes is being held in what is now the biggest mass shooting in U.S. history. Twelve people were shot and killed and 59 hurt, most by gunfire — and some in the chaos as patrons rushed to flee the theater — allegedly by the 24-year-old Holmes at a midnight premiere of the Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises” Friday.
He says he rigged his apartment with a complex system of booby traps and explosives.
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.
“It is a very vexing problem how to enter that apartment safely,” Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said before the detonation. “I personally haven’t seen anything like what the pictures show us is in there. I’m a layman when it comes to bomb stuff, [but] I see an awful lot of wires, trip wires, jars full of ammunition … jars full of liquids, mortar rounds. We have a lot of challenges to get in there safely.”
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 where he also served as the commanding officer of the NYPD’s Intelligence Division.
Aurora residents are coming together to support each other, as well as the victims who remain in critical condition.
Near the entrance to the Aurora theater’s parking lot, a makeshift memorial of 12 candles sat in a row near piles of flowers. Up the hill, about 20 pastors led an emotional vigil for about 350 people, some hugging and crying. A sign read, “7/20. Gone Not Forgotten.”
An emotional Gov. John Hickenlooper said earlier Friday that people would not be defined by the tragedy.
“We are clear that we are going to rise back and lift ourselves above this,” he said.
Holmes had three guns on him and one in his car — all legally purchased at Colorado gun stores, authorities said. Officials say he also purchased over 6,000 rounds of ammunition online.
Although Holmes surrendered without a fight, it’s clear that he carefully staged his attack.
“Based on his behavior and based on planning that went into it, he very likely is sitting back enjoying the impact of the crime,” observes Mary Ellen O’toole. “It’s very unnerving when you think about that.”
Warner Bros. Pictures has canceled appearances by the cast and filmmakers of the movie in Mexico and Japan in light of the incident.
Holmes’ motive remained unclear.
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