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12 dead after gunman opens fire in movie theater

Posted at 5:37 AM, Jul 20, 2012
and last updated 2012-07-20 16:40:19-04

AURORA, Colorado (WTVR) – At least 12 people are dead and 59 injured in a shooting early Friday morning at an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater.

Officials said Friday afternoon that 71 people has been shot. Ten of the victims died inside the movie theater. 

The 24-year-old male shooter, identified as James Holmes, was taken into custody by police outside the theater without any significant incident. Investigators believe the gunman acted alone, but said their investigation continues. [WATCH LIVE: Aurora movie theater shooting coverage]

A law enforcement source said Friday afternoon that Holmes was carrying an AR-15 rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun and at least one of two .40-caliber handguns. Additionally, he had a drum magazine capable of holding more than 100 rounds of ammunition.

The source said all of the guns used in the attack were legally purchased at Bass Pro Shops and Gander Mountain in the past six months.

Police reports show the shooting suspect moved to Colorado from San Diego to pursue a PhD, according to KDVR-TV. [BLOG: Colorado movie theater shooting tragedy from KDVR]

The University of Colorado released a photo of the suspect Friday morning. Holmes was studying in the school’s neuroscience PhD program for about a year. He started in June 2011 and left the program in June of 2012. 

The tragedy unfolded during a midnight premier of the new Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises,” at the Century 16 theaters at an Aurora mall.

Witnesses said the gunman, dressed in black, wearing a helmet, leggings and throat protector, came in through the theater’s right exterior exit door, just after 12 a.m. local time.

Next, witnesses said the gunman threw some sort of gas bomb into the crowd, fire several shots into the ceiling and then opened fire on the crowd.

According to a federal law enforcement official, the suspect used at least three guns — one assault rifle and two handguns.

Authorities said the suspect’s car was parked near the theater exit.

Graphic video of people making their way out of the theater, which officials said could hold around 300 people, was posted on numerous social media websites. 

Witnesses described the nightmare scenario to reporters.

A 17-year-old named Tanner said he first though it was some sort of joke during the midnight Batman movie premier.

After three more shots though, the teen said he knew the gunfire was real and yelled to his friends to get down.  He said he saw the gunman’s silhouette and that he was  shooting at anything that was moving.

He said he was sitting in the fourth row and had to duck down and crawl out through the third row.

“I slipped on some blood and fell on a woman,” said Tanner. “I grabbed her leg and told her ‘we have to go,’ but I knew at that point she  was dead.”

Tanner said all felt like a bad dream as it was happening.

Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates told CBS News that there appeared to be incendiary devices and chemicals inside the suspect’s third-floor apartment. .

Additionally, Oates said he did not know the legal status of the weapons believed to be used in the shooting. 

FBI spokesman Jason Pack said it did not appear the incident was related to terrorism.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper Friday afternoon during a news conference that the attack was the work of a “very deranged mind.”

“Obviously no words can express the intensity of this tragedy,” he said.

Eleven hours after the shooting, investigators were still interviewing witnesses inside the theater. to police. People in their teens and twenties, as well as families with small children, were seeing coming out of the complex. 

COMPLETE COVERAGE: Gunman opens fire in Colorado movie theater 

Depend on CBS 6 News and for the latest on this developing story.