Colorado Movie Theater Shooting: Suspect Bought 4 Guns, 6,000 Rounds of Ammunition in Past 60 Days
Suspected gunman James Holmes, 24, was pursuing Ph.D. in Colorado.
AURORA, Colo. July 20, 2012— -- Suspected Colorado movie theater gunman James Holmes purchased four guns at local shops and more than 6,000 rounds of ammunition on the Internet in the past 60 days, Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates told a news conference this evening.
"All the ammunition he possessed, he possessed legally, all the weapons he possessed, he possessed legally, all the clips he possessed, he possessed legally," an emotional Oates said.
The chief declined to say whether the weapons were automatic or semi-automatic, but "he could have gotten off 50 to 60 rounds, even if it was semi-automatic, within one minute," Oates said.
Authorities have yet to identify the 10 victims who died at the theater. Two other people died at the hospital, including 24-year-old aspiring sportscaster Jessica Ghawi, for a total of 12 dead. Thirty people remained hospitalized, 11 of them in critical condition, Oates said.
Fifty eight people were injured, most of them by gunfire but a "handful" during the ensuing chaos, Oates said. One person was hit in an adjacent theater.
As for the dead, Oates said he hoped soon to get a "confirmed list of the 10 deceased and we will begin the agonizing process of meeting with those families and confirming what has happened to their loved ones."
Gov. John Hickenlooper opened the news conference this evening, saying, "We are seeing this community rise up and do the things that communities do.
At times lost for words, he repeatedly praised the efforts of the first responders.
The shooting occurred during a sold-out midnight premiere of the new Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises," when Holmes, 24, allegedly 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.
An honors student and Ph.D. candidate at a nearby college with a clean arrest record, Holmes allegedly entered the movie auditorium wearing a ballistics helmet, bulletproof vest, bulletproof leggings, gas mask and gloves. He detonated multiple smoke bombs, and then began firing at viewers in the sold-out auditorium, police said today.
Holmes, who is being held in jail and will make his first court appearance Monday, is originally from Riverside, Calif., where he attended the University of California branch, Oates told the news conference this evening. "Neighbors report that he lived alone and kept to himself," Oates added.
Oates also offered a warning about the veracity of online information. "In the era of blogs," he said, "and everything else, we just caution you that everything you read may not be true."
He added that two local high schools will be offering grief counseling Saturday.
Bullets from the shooting 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 the 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.
Authorities began removing the bodies this afternoon, according to ABC News Denver affiliate KMGH-TV. Several people have been reported missing as the coroner identifies the dead.
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 an AR-15 assault rifle, which can hold upwards of 100 rounds, a Remington 12-gauge shotgun, 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.
Chief Oates earlier today said that police, bomb squads and the ATF 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.
"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 told ABC News.
Oates this evening said police will allow residents to retrieve personal belongings but leave the booby-trapped apartment alone for now, and inspect them Saturday with the help of federal law enforcement. Residents are staying at a local high school in the meantime. Oates didn't know many people are displaced from the five apartment buildings involved.
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 they 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."