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Batman Premier Mass Shooting in Aurora: A Chronicle

Posted: July 26, 2012
By TrinidadAndTobagoNews.com Reporters


Members of our TrinidadAndTobago.com team who were in Aurora, Colorado at the time of the Batman Premier shooting spree, gave us photo coverage and this story.

Century 16 movie theatre where a gunman attacked movie goers during the premier of The Dark Knight Rises
Century 16 movie theatre where a gunman attacked movie goers
during the premier of "The Dark Knight Rises"

Just after midnight on Friday, July 20th, 2012, a mass shooting took place at the Century 16 Movie Theatre, 14300 E. Alameda Avenue, Aurora, Colorado killing 12 and leaving 59 wounded according to revised reports.

Witness Eric Hunter, 23, describing his recollection of events from theater 8 at the Century 16 Batman premier
Witness Eric Hunter, 23, describing his recollection of events from theater 8 at the Century 16 Batman premier

The suspected shooter, James Holmes, who seemingly awaited apprehension, was spotted by police near his white car behind the movie theatre. He did not resist arrest and surrendered to police without further incident. Holmes was wearing tactical body armor. Reports state that Holmes was in possession of a knife, rifle and handgun. It was also reported that he wore a gas mask during the attack. James Holmes was said to have bought a ticket to the midnight premier of the latest installment of Batman, "The Dark Knight Rises". He sat in the movie theatre and watched the movie for a few minutes, then proceeded out the exit door. It is alleged that Holmes propped the exit door open, returned through the exit into theatre 9 of the complex and opened fire on the patrons.

Colorado Massacre Suspect's Booby Trapped Apartment
Colorado Massacre Suspect's Booby Trapped Apartment

The police claimed they were advised by the suspect that his car as well as his North Aurora apartment located at 1690 Paris Street were booby-trapped with explosives. The SWAT team evacuated residents at 1690 Paris Street - the apartment building where the suspect resided - before authorities from various agencies attempted entry into the suspect's apartment.

Police and other officials' vehicles the suspect's apartment
Police and other officials' vehicles the suspect's apartment

Police from several Metro Area forces as well as fire and emergency crews were on hand while bomb squads worked through the trip wires and explosives they claimed to have found at the apartment. Four adjoining apartment buildings were also evacuated. Aurora Central High School, 11700 E. 11th Avenue was made available for evacuees displaced by the police activities in the area of the suspect's apartment.

Arapahoe County Detention Facility in Centennial, Colorado
Arapahoe County Detention Facility

James Holmes was booked into the Arapahoe County Detention Facility in Centennial, Colorado on July 20th, 2012, at 5:35 PM MST and faces a charge of murder in the first degree. He is being held without bond.

James Holmes in court with court appointed attorney Tamara Brady
James Holmes in court with court appointed attorney Tamara Brady

Holmes made his first court appearance on Monday, July 22nd, 2012 at 9:30 AM MST.

Century 16 movie theatre where a gunman attacked movie goers during the premier of The Dark Knight Rises
Century 16 movie theatre where a gunman attacked movie goers

In the aftermath of the early morning shooting, the parking area of the theatre was cordoned off while the authorities commenced their investigation and gathered evidence at the enormous crime scene. When TrinidadAndTobagoNews.com arrived at the scene at approximately 4:30 AM MST, a heavy police presence from various police forces across the Denver Metro Area and the Front Range was observed. The Fire alarms activated in the theatre could still be heard and the news of the shooting was being reported by several media outlets. However, there was not a very large media presence at that time. Clothing and other items could be seen strewn across the parking lot. The police interviewed hundreds of witnesses at the crime scene and at Gateway High School, 1300 S. Sable Boulevard, Aurora, less than a mile away.

Witness Jennifer Seeger who was in theater 9 where the shootings occured recounts what transpired to the media
Witness Jennifer Seeger who was in theater 9 where the shootings occured
recounts what transpired to the media

Reports of the theatre shootings spread rapidly prompting friends and family across the nation to contact their loved ones who were assumed to have been at the theatre during the Batman premier. Many persons were unable to get any information from authorities regarding family and friends unaccounted for and known to have attended the premier for hours after the shooting.

Media restricted to a specific area to the north of the theatre
Media restricted to a specific area to the north of the theatre

By midday Friday the police had extended the barricaded area at the crime scene and media access was now restricted to a specific area to the north of the theatre. The larger media outlets set up their equipment and soon began to broadcast constant live updates. Some of the 'big gun' reporters dispatched to Aurora from across the country had already arrived and interviewed some of the victims in the press area. The mall did not reopen for business until Saturday, July 21st.

Fox News reporter Greta Van Susteren and TrinidadAndTobagoNew.com representative (R)
Fox News reporter Greta Van Susteren and TrinidadAndTobagoNew.com representative (R)

When TrinidadAndTobagoNews.com visited the area surrounding the alleged shooter's apartment mid-afternoon Friday, 20 July, several media organizations were reporting live about the progress authorities were making to de-booby trap the location. Several blocks were surrounded by crime scene tape to keep media and onlookers at bay. Police units dotted the perimeter ensuring only authorized personnel crossed the line. Fire fighters, emergency medical crews and police authorities from Aurora and the Denver Metro Area along with their extensive equipments were available in case of further incidence while in the process of de-arming the apartment. It has been reported that the FBI and ATF were also involved.

The remaining residents near the suspect's apartment
The remaining residents near the suspect's apartment

The remaining residents near the suspect's apartment seemed to be going about their daily activities as best they could given the disruption. Some local businesses however, were unable to open.

Makeshift memorial dedicated to the victims of the shooting spree
Makeshift memorial dedicated to the victims of the shooting spree

Another makeshift memorial dedicated to the victims of the shooting spree
Another makeshift memorial dedicated to the victims of the shooting spree

Late Friday evening, people began organizing makeshift memorials dedicated to the victims of the shooting spree. As dusk arrived, small groups of mourners surrounded teddy bears, flowers, candles and placards at various locations along Sable Boulevard -- the street that runs behind the cinema.

Press conference related to the Century 16 Theatre shooting
Press conference related to the Century 16 Theatre shooting

The third press conference related to the Century 16 Theatre shooting was held on Saturday, July 21st at 2:15 PM MST on the east side of the Aurora Municipal Building. The large media presence included organizations and media houses across the U.S., Asia, Europe, and reporters from TrinidadAndTobagoNews.com from the Caribbean.

Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan, FBI Agent Jim Yacone, unknown official and Fire Chief Mike Garcia
Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan, FBI Agent Jim Yacone, unknown official and Fire Chief Mike Garcia

Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan led the press conference followed by the Governor of Colorado, John Hickenlooper. FBI Agent Jim Yacone, introduced by Aurora Chief of Police Dan Oates, gave an update on the progress made at the suspect's booby-trapped apartment. He gave a synopsis of the slow and methodical process and of the various personnel involved. He advised at the time of speaking, that the exercise was not completed but the threat had been reduced.

Aurora Fire Chief Mike Garcia and Victims Services' Supervisor, Carole O'Shea
CENTRE: Aurora Fire Chief Mike Garcia and Victims Services' Supervisor, Carole O'Shea

Also addressing the media was Aurora Fire Chief Mike Garcia followed by Victims Services' Supervisor, Carole O'Shea.

Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates
Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates

Chief Oates returned to the podium and explained what progress had been made and gave an expected timeline of when the investigations could be completed. Police Chief Oates also pointed out how disturbed he was that the suspect set booby traps to harm, in his estimation, police officers upon entry into the apartment.

When Police Chief Oates fielded questions, those posed by an unknown reporter stood out. He asked: "You said 6,000 rounds of ammo had been purchased in the weeks leading to this. How is it possible that someone can amass basically what could arm a small militia or army? And are there red flags that are set off at a certain number, once you acquire so many rounds?"

The Chief of Police responded: "I don't know anything about how you purchase ammunition; I'm not much of a gun person. All I know is the purchases were legal."

Chief Oates announced a Prayer Vigil scheduled for the next day, Sunday, July 22, 2012, to be held at the Aurora Municipal Building. The media was informed that this was the last major press briefing by the police department.

President Barack Obama hugs Stephanie Davies, who helped her friend, Allie Young during the movie theater shootings
President Barack Obama hugs Stephanie Davies, who helped her friend,
Allie Young during the movie theater shootings (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

On Sunday afternoon, July 22nd, at around 3:30 PM MST President Barack Obama arrived at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora and made a brief stop to visit victims and their families at the University of Colorado Hospital.

Cross-section of participants of the prayer vigil dedicated to the victims of the Century 16 Theatre Shooting
Cross-section of participants of the prayer vigil

The Prayer Vigil for the Victims, Families and Community of the Century 16 Theatre Shooting was held Sunday, July 22, 2012 at the Aurora Municipal Building, 15151 E. Alameda Parkway, Aurora, Colorado. At the start of the vigil approximately 6:30 PM MST, the thousands that were gathered outside were serenaded by a local church choir's performance. President Obama did not attend as he had already left Colorado; it is reported that he did not want to distract from the event intended for community healing.

Victims and their Families of the Century 16 Theatre Shooting in a Brief Procession
Victims and their Families of the Century 16 Theatre Shooting in a Brief Procession

Before the formal start of the vigil, there was a brief procession of victims and their families who proceeded to a tent opposite the main event area to observe the show of solidarity by hundreds of people from Aurora and other areas within Colorado.

After Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan introduced the Aurora City Council members in attendance, Governor of Colorado, John Hickenlooper addressed the large gathering. During his speech, Hickenlooper, received one of the largest reactions from the crowd when he refused to call suspect James Holmes by name, instead saying in his house he will be referred to as 'Suspect A'. The governor also mentioned that two of the victims of the shooting were shot by all three guns carried by the gunman. Governor Hickenlooper then read the names of each deceased victim. After each name was read, the crowd repeated the refrain, "We will remember."

Officials at the prayer vigil dedicated to the victims of the Theatre shooting
Officials at the prayer vigil dedicated to the victims of the Theatre shooting

The mayor of Aurora announced a list of VIP's in attendance that included U.S. and Colorado Senators, Congressional Delegates, City Mayors from around the Denver Metro Area, City Council members, representatives from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a General from Buckley Air Force Base.

Representatives from various religious groups offered words of comfort, encouragement and support. Most offered prayers including one who prayed for the conversion of the shooter.

Crowd headed toward Sable Boulevard to a site of a makeshift memorial
Crowd headed toward Sable Boulevard to a site of a makeshift memorial

After the vigil, as the crowd dispersed, many in attendance headed toward Sable Boulevard to join those gathered at sites of makeshift memorials.

Crowd at Sable Boulevard - a site of a makeshift memorial
Crowd at Sable Boulevard - a site of a makeshift memorial

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