Batman movie premiere turns deadly in Denver, 12 dead (Fifth Lead, changing dateline)

July 20th, 2012 - 10:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Denver (Colorado), July 20 (IANS) The midnight premiere of the new Batman movie turned deadly as a gas mask-wearing gunman opened fire early Friday at a suburban Denver movie theatre, killing at least 12 people and leaving dozens of others wounded.

The shooter, dressed in black and wearing body armour, “appeared” at the front of one of the theatres showing “The Dark Knight Rises”, with a rifle and a handgun, threw some type of explosive and started shooting into the packed theatre, according to local media reports.

The suspect entered through an emergency exit at the right front of the Theatre 9 in Aurora, about 16 km from downtown Denver, less than 10 minutes into the film, the Denver Post reported citing witnesses.

The man had a rifle, a handgun and a gas mask when police arrested him. Police have no evidence that there are any additional suspects involved in the shooting, it said.

The bodies of the 10 people who died at the theatre remain at the scene while police continue to investigate. Police previously stated that 14 people were killed.

A 24-year-old man was taken into custody and police searched the third floor of an apartment building in north Aurora connected to the suspect for possible explosives, the Post said citing Police Chief Dan Oates. The residents of the area were evacuated.

Several federal sources identified the suspect as James Holmes, NBC reported.

“Witnesses tell us he released some sort of canister,” Oates was quoted as saying by the Post. “They heard a hissing sound and some gas emerged and the gunman opened fire.”

Witness Benjamin Fernandez, 30, was cited by the daily as saying he was watching the movie when he heard a series of explosions. He said people ran from the theatre and there were gunshots as police shouted “get down!”

President Barack Obama, who was notified about the shooting by Homeland Security adviser John Brennan, said he was “shocked and saddened” by the “horrific and tragic” shooting.

In a statement released Friday, Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney said he was “deeply saddened” by the “senseless violence”.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation said there was no indication that the shooting has any connection to terrorism.

“Deeply saddened about this shocking incident”, Warner Bros cancelled the red carpet premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Paris, The Hollywood Reporter said.

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