The Aurora Theater Shooting: What Do We Know


A gunman opened fire on theater-goers at midnight screenings of “The Dark Knight Rises” at a multiplex in Aurora, Colorado, early Friday morning. Twelve people were killed, and 59 wounded, according to authorities. A suspect is in custody, and federal officials have identified him as 24-year-old James Eagan Holmes.

Below you’ll find the rest of what we know so far. This post will be updated throughout the day:

  • Police received reports of gunshots at the Century 16 Movie Theaters at the Aurora Town Center around 12:39 a.m. (Denver Post)
  • Most of the victims were in Theater 9. (Denver Post)
  • Deadspin reports that Jessica Ghawi, who also went by Jessica Redfield, an aspiring sportscaster, was among the victims.
  • The Pentagon has confirmed that members of the military are among the wounded. (AP)
  • The suspect was arrested in a rear parking lot of the theater. A police spokesman told CNN that the suspect, “did not resist. He did not put up a fight.”
  • The suspect was wearing black and had several guns on his person when he was arrested. The Denver Post reports that he had “a rifle, a handgun and a gas mask.” CNN reports that a third gun was found in the theater, and that the suspect also used an “AK type” rifle. WUSA, citing federal authorities, reports that the suspect was wearing a bulletproof vest.
  • Police said the suspect walked to the front of one of the packed theaters and set off a smoke device before opening fire. (New York Times)
  • “He was dressed in black,” witness James Wilburn told The Denver Post. “Wearing a flack jacket and a gas mask.”
  • A movie-goer using a cellphone took video of the evacuation of the theater after the shooting (warning: graphic footage):
  • Multiple witnesses told NBC affiliate KUSA-TV that they saw two canisters released in the theater. (TPM Livewire)
  • Police Chief Dan Oates told reporters the suspect “made a statement about explosives” in an Aurora apartment. (CNN)
  • An apartment building in north Aurora connected to the suspect has been evacuated. (Denver Post)
  • Update 10:56 a.m.: In a brief statement, Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said the suspect’s apartment “is apparently booby trapped.”

    “What we have is a bunch of bomb techs from a bunch of different agencies,” Oates said. “We could be here for hours. We could be here for days… The pictures are pretty disturbing. It looks pretty sophisticated in terms of how it’s been booby trapped.”

    According to a police spokesman, fire trucks are standing by in case the explosives need to be detonated.

  • Update 10:46 a.m.: The FBI at this time believes the incident had no connection to terrorism. In a statement, the bureau said:

    The Aurora police department is the lead investigative agency for this matter.  More than 100 FBI Agents are on the scene and assisting the Aurora police department.

    The U.S. Attorney’s office in Colorado is coordinating the federal law enforcement response and working closely with the state District Attorney’s office with respect to any federal, state, or local charges that might be applicable.

  • Update 11:34 a.m.: University of Colorado School of Medicine confirmed to TPM that the suspect in Friday’s shooting, James Holmes, was a student there. Update 12:10 p.m.: The Denver Post reports that Holmes enrolled at the university in June 2011 and was “in the process of withdrawing from the university’s graduate program in neurosciences.”
  • Update 11:38 a.m.: A spokesperson for the parents of the suspect, James Holmes, spoke to the media outside the couple’s residence in San Diego, California on Friday morning.

    “As you can understand, the family is very upset about all of this. It is a tragic event and it is taking everyone by surprise,” the spokesperson said. “Their hearts go out… to the friends and family of those that were involved. They are cooperating with law enforcement and they just asked for patience and diligence and respect at this time.”

    Watch the video:


  • Update 12:49 a.m.: We’ve put together a separate post on what we know about the suspect, James Holmes, here.
  • Update 1:05 p.m.:A senior law enforcement official told The New York Times that authorities had “no motivation yet,” and added that “the kid’s not talking.”
  • Update 2:22 p.m.: At a press conference in Aurora, police chief Dan Oates gave an update on the facts of the case and the investigation. According to Oates, 71 people people were shot, and 12 killed. Ten of the victims died at the scene.

    Oates also described the weapons allegedly fired by the suspect, James Eagan Holmes. Holmes was arrested in his car, a white Hyundai parked just outside the theater, just moments after the first calls were made to 911. An AR-15 assault rifle, Remington 870, 12-gauge shotgun, and .40-caliber Glock handgun were found in the car with Holmes. A second Glock was found in the theater. Oates could not say how many rounds were fired during the shooting, saying only that there “were many, many rounds fired.” He also described what Holmes was wearing.
    “The suspect was dressed all in black,” Oates said. “He was wearing a ballistic helmet, a tactical ballistic vest, ballistic leggings, a throat protector and a groin protector and a gas mask, and black tactical gloves.”

    Police believe that Holmes set off to devices to “distract” the crowd, which released “some sort of irritant or smoke.”

    According to Oates, close to 200 witnesses have already been interviewed.

  • Update 3:33 p.m.:An Arapahoe County Court has granted a request to seal the case against the Holmes. (The Daily)
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