Drop-out PhD student who massacred 12 at Batman movie screening looked like and said he was the JOKER
NY Police Commissioner said gunman told police he was The Joker
Shooter James Holmes, 24, dropped out from neuroscience PhD at University of Colorado in JuneHolmes bought a movie ticket, entered with crowd and put on ballistic gear
Set off smoke bomb then fired indiscriminately with as many as four guns59 people injured including three-month-old baby and six-year-old
At least 12 dead with youngest victim just 12 years oldAspiring sportscaster Jessica Ghawi among those killedShooter listened to one techno song on repeat before shooting
Questions over why young children and babies were at late-night screeningMan was arrested without incident in a car park nearby and told the police that explosives were stored at his homeApartment block in north Aurora has been evacuated as police figure out how to disarm “sophisticated” devices inside shooter”s home
The reclusive drop-out PhD student behind the Dark Knight screening shooting spree said he was “The Joker” after he carried out his horrific attack, it has been revealed.
James Holmes, 24, had painted his hair red to resemble Batman”s arch nemesis before firing into the crowded theatre in Aurora, Colorado, according to New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.
“It clearly looks like a deranged individual,” Kelly said of the shooter at a news conference, CBS reported. “He had his hair painted red. He said he was “The Joker”, obviously the enemy of Batman.”
A neighbour also reported that police, who were searching Holmes”s apartment for explosives, asked him if he had seen “a white guy with crazy hair, possibly dyed unnatural colors”, the Denver Post said.
It has also emerged that Holmes, who is accused of killing 12 and injuring 59 after buying a ticket to the film, had been studying at the University of Colorado”s medical campus until June this year.
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“Killer”: James Holmes, left, burst into a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado and fired indiscriminately at audience members at the new Batman film. Police said he appeared to be dressed as the Joker, right
Evidence: Markers outside the cinema sit next to a gas mask believed to be worn by Holmes as he opened fire
Discarded: Investigators look over evidence on ground outside the back door of the movie theatre. The gunman had been wearing head-to-toe ballistic gear
But neighbours at university housing in Denver described Holmes as a recluse who kept himself to himself. One student said: “No one knew him. No one.”
Holmes – who had been working towards his PhD for a year before dropping out – had one techno song blaring from his stereo in the hours before the massacre and left the music on repeat in his booby-trapped apartment as he departed to commit the massacre.
He was also reportedly addicted to videogame Guitar Hero.
His shocked mother confirmed that he was behind the massacre, telling reporters: “You”ve got the right man.”
A federal law enforcement official told the Associated Press that Holmes had bought a ticket to the midnight showing and went in to the screen as part of the crowd.
He then propped open an exit door as the movie played and put on donned protective a ballistic helmet, vest, throat protector, gas mask, black tactical gloves.
Witnesses said he threw a smoke grenade and waited for it to explode before opening random fire with an AR-15 assault rifle, a Remmington 12-guage shotgun and a 40-caliber Glock handgun. He also had another 40-caliber Glock in his car, police said.
He moved up the cinema aisle shooting anyone who tried to flee.
Twelve people died in the horrific attack, and the bodies of 10 victims are still inside the theatre, police said. The youngest victim is believed to be just 12.
Dozens of harrowing stories have emerged from the shooting.
One of the people fleeing described how he tried to shut the door on the suspected gunman.
Twenty-three-year-old Eric Hunter says he and his friends made their way to an exit door afterseeing smoke and hearing shots during the movie.
Yearbook photo: Holmes went to high school in San Diego where his parents still live
Weapons of choice: He had a Colt AR-15 Tactical Carbine and .40 caliber glock handgun (file pictures)
Power: He also had a Remington 870 Marine Magnum (pictured) with him, and another glock in his car
When they opened the door, Hunter says they saw two teenage girls – one of whom had been shot in the mouth.
Hunter says he was about to close the door when he saw the shooter, dressed in a bullet-proof vest and a gas mask, approaching. He held the door closed and the gunman banged on it for about 10 seconds
Afraid that the shooter would start firing through the door, Hunter says he let it go and managed to get out of the theater.
Another couple described how they had been planning to sit by the emergency exit where Holmes entered.
But in a last minute twist of fate Jamie Rohrs and Patricia Legarreta opted instead for a second-floor balcony seat with their four-year-old daughter and four month-old son and saw Holmes burst into the theater.
Rohr – who had been holding their four-month-old child – jumped over the balcony and fled after putting the infant down. But the boy was spotted by Legarreta who grabbed him and their daughter and fled.
“I threw my daughter on the floor,” she said. “I just remember thinking my fiance has my son.”
Ms Legaretta suffered shrapnel wounds to her leg but she managed to grab her daughter and four-month-old son.
Heartbreak: Mr Sullivan embraces family members outside Gateway High School after searching for his son
Family: Media gather outside the San Diego home of Holmes” parents who said their son is the shooter
Scores of injured victims are now fighting for their lives; the youngest is just three months old, and is believed to have been shot at blank point range in the back.
The U.S. Department of Defense says three members of the U.S. Armed Forces were wounded in a movie theater shooting in Colorado and one is unaccounted for.
Holmeswas arrested in the cinema parking lot where he did not put up any resistance. He told police he had explosives at his North Aurora home, and they closed off the apartment to search.
In an address today, President Obama said he was “heartbroken” to hear of the “heinous” crime.
“Suchviolence, such evil is senseless. It”s beyond reason,” he said. “But while we never fully know what causes someone to take the life of another, we do know what makes life worth living.
“Whatmatters, at the end of the day, is not the small things, the trivial things that so often consume us in our daily lives. Ultimately, it”s howwe choose to treat one another, how we love one another.”
He added that if anything can be taken away from the tragedy, “it reminds us that life is very fragile”.
Mourning: President Obama led a moment of silence for the victims from Florida on Friday morning
An eyewitness video showed a man (left) in a striped shirt leaving the cinema in a daze with blood on his clothing, while other people stood around in confusion, unsure of the horror which had unfolded
Vehicle: A white Hyundai car with belongings around it believed to belong to suspected gunman
Comfort: Friends gather for a prayer near the theatre where James Holmes allegedly opened fire
Witnesses at the movie theatre said the manburst through the emergency exit at the front of the auditorium 30 minutes into the screening.
He began firing into the terrified audience with four guns as he made his way up the stairs, picking his victims at random.
“Witnesses tell us he released some sort of canister. They heard a hissing sound and some gas emerged and the gunman opened fire,” Mr Oates said at a news conference.
The incident at the Century 16 cinema complex began at 00:30 local time – 30 minutes into the start of the screening.
The preview trailers had just finished when a gas canister was thrown across in front of the screen and exploded in the auditorium.
Horror: People gather outside the Century 16 movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado at the scene of a mass shooting – a masked gunman shot dead 12 people and wounded 50 others
Grief: A man cries at the Children”s Hospital in Aurora. The youngest victim is believed to be three months
Victim: Jessica Ghawi, an aspiring TV presenter, was one of the 12 people shot dead in the massacre. She was tweeting about her excitement at seeing the film until moments before her death
Questions: Aurora Police Chief Daniel Oates talks outside the mall after the alleged gunman was arrested
WAS DEADLY SHOOTING INSPIRED BY BATMAN COMIC BOOK
The Dark Knight cinema massacre may have been inspired by aBatman comic book strip, it emerged on Friday.
The bloodbath is a chilling copycat of a 25-year-oldBatman comic strip which features a deranged gunman opening fire in a cinema.
In the second issue of The Dark Knight Returns, written byFrank Miller – the creative mind behind Sin City and 300 – gunman Arnold Crimpopens fire in a pornographic theatre, killing three people, after listening toLed Zepplin”s classic track “Stairway to Heaven.”
Text from the page reads: “Arnold Crimp fingers thecold steel thing in his pocket and stares at the movie marquee and does notthrow up.
“He thinks about Led Zeppelin and how they are tryingto kill him.
“He had not known about Led Zeppelin until Father Donon TV had explained it last night.
“Father Don said that Led Zeppelin hid a prayer toSatan in their song Stairway to Heaven.
“They hid it very well. They recorded it backwards.
“Arnold Crimp took the album from the record storewhere he worked until they fired him this afternoon and transferred Stairway to Heaven to tape.
“Then he played the tape backwards. He played itforty-seven times until he was absolutely certain that Father Don wasright.”
Crimp then walks into a cinema, which is screening apornographic film called My Sweet Satan, and opens fire.
Holmes motives behind the massacre are unknown, but if hewas a fan of the Batman comics, then he may well have read the issue featuringCrimp”s killing-spree.
The comic itself is still in print, and on Friday itwas available in several Waterstones” book shops, priced 12.99.
A witness told CNN: “We heard anywhere from 10 to 20 shots and little explosions going on. Shortly after that we heard people screaming.
“Thenthey came on PA system and said everyone needed to get out. As soon as we got out, there were people running around and screaming.”
“He looked so calm when he did it,” another witness said. “It was like scary. He waited for both the bombs to explode before he did anything.
“Then, after both of them exploded, he began to shoot. He had no specific target. He just started letting loose.”
Witnesses said that the shooting was so brutal that bullets went through the walls into the next theatre, where one person was hit.
Police received the first emergency call at 00.39 a.m. local time.
Police, ambulances and emergency crews swarmed on the scene after frantic calls started flooding in to authorities, officials said.
Cellphone video taken at the cinema by a witness showed crowds of people screaming and fleeing the building, with some with blood on their clothes.
One witness reported seeing a police officer carrying a girl who looked to be nine with gunshot wound to her back. “She wasn”t moving,” the witness said.
Among those killed was Jessica Ghawi,an aspiring sportscaster who had recently moved to Colorado from Texas.
She was shot as she watched the film with a male friend, who was injured.
Jessica had escaped another deadly shooting in Toronto on June 2, after a gunman fired in a mall food court, killing one man.
Severalothers have said there were children at the screening and the youngest victim reported was a three-month-old baby. A six-year-old is also beingtreated.
Local reporter Justin Jones said: “The attacker shot a baby at point blank range.”
Another eyewitness, James Cameron, added that the baby girl was shot in the back.
Strength: A small group prays outside Gateway High School where witnesses gave statements to police
Embrace: Eyewitness Jacob Stevens, 18, hugs his mother Tammi Stevens after being interviewed by police
Pain: Witnesses gather outside Gateway High School where they were brought for questioning
Plea: Tom Sullivan holds a photo of his son Alex who was celebrating his 27th birthday by going to the film
Tears: Jacob Stevens, 18, hugs his mother Tammi Stevens after being interviewed by police
Loss: A group is overcome with emotion outside the school after learning of the death of a friend
Precautions: The Aurora bomb squad robot is deployed to search a suspect”s car behind the cinema
KEY U.S. MASS SCALE SHOOTINGS
Virgina Tech, April 2007
Seung-Hui Cho, a student, shot and killed 32 people and inured 15 others at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia.
He then turned the gun on himself.
Fort Hood, November 2009
Major Nidal Hasan , a U.S. army psychologist, fired at a military base in Fort Hood, Texas. 13 people were killed and 42 others were injured.
Columbine High School, April 1999
Twoteenage schoolboys shot and killed 12 schoolmates and a teacher at the school in Littleton, Colorado, before killing themselves.
Gabrielle Giffords, January 2011
Six people including a nine-year-old girl were killed and 12 others were wounded when a gunman opened fire ata public gathering outside a grocery in Tuscon, Arizona.
Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was at the scene and was severely injured with a gunshot to the head.
Civic centre, April 2009
13 people shot dead by a gunman in Binghamton, New York
While driving a car through towns in Alabama, a 28-year-old redundant worker starting shooting randomly killing 10 people.
Omaha, December 2007
Nine people killed and injured five others in a shopping center in Omaha, Nebraska after a 20-year-old man started shooting
Northern Illinois University, February 2008
Five students killed and 16 injured after a man opened fire in a lecture hall at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois. At the end of the shooting spree he surrendered, laying down his weapon
Hayden Miller told KUSA-TV that he was inside Theatre 16 and heard several shots. He said at first he thought it was part of a louder movie next door, but then he saw “people hunched over leaving theatre.”
The gunman was arrested without incident in acar park nearby and told the police that explosives were stored at his home. He remains in police custody.
Police chief Dan Oates told reportersthat an apartment block in the north of Aurora had been evacuated as a consequence of the man”s claims his apartment had explosives.
They found the suspect”s apartment rigged with tripwires tied to bottles of unknown substances. “It”s not something I”ve ever been before,” Oates told an early-afternoon press conference.
Around 6.40 a.m. local time, there were a reports of an explosion at the apartment.
Police said that anotherhandgun was found left in the cinema but there was no evidence of any other attackers.
They added there was no immediate knowledge of the motive.
TheFBI say they are working with local police. They say it is still early in the investigation, but that there is no terrorism link so far. The car park of the mall remains closed off.
Policespokeswoman Cassidee Carlson said: “The scene is still very active and we have little information for release at this time.”
Hospitalsreported shrapnel injuries and Denver University hospital reported it was treating three people for “chemical exposure”.
With ambulances rushing to the hospitals, some chose toget to the nearest medical facility by foot.
Mitt Romney said today: “This is a time for each of us to look inot our hearts and remember how much we love each other. Our hearts break for the victims and their families.”
BrendaStuart, of 850 KOA Radio, said: “Police are taking people to hospital in their own cars, not waiting for ambulances to arrive.
“There were chaotic scenes as people desperately tried to flee.”
Hunt: A police officer holds a searching device to the window of the home of the suspected 24-year-old gunman after he claimed he had explosives at his home
Break through: Police use a video camera to look inside the suspect”s apartment for explosives
Swoop: Aurora Police officers are pictured outside the building where Holmes is believed to live
Investigation: Neighbours reported hearing an explosion in the building early on Friday morning
Crime scene: Investigators at the Century 16 movie theatre where the gunmen attacked movie goers
Fraught: FBI officers, Aurora police officers, and fire crews outside the suspect”s apartment building
Investigation: Officers gather at the cinema on Friday morning. Ten bodies were still believed to be inside
The suspect had no history with police apart from a traffic ticket, police reported.
Whenapproached in San Diego, a woman who identified herself as Holmes”s mother told ABC police her son was the likely culprit, saying: “You have the right person.”
Holmeswas a student at the University of Colorado Denver Medical Campus but had dropped out in June, a school official told ABC. He attended high school in California.
The shootings have led to precautions at other planned premieres of the film. There are reports that the screening in Paris has been cancelled.
In New York, PoliceCommissioner Raymond W. Kelly released a statement saying: “As a precaution against copycats and to raise the comfort levels among movie patrons in the wake of the horrendous shooting in Colorado, the New YorkCity Police Department is providing coverage at theaters where the “TheDark Knight Rises” is playing in the five boroughs.”
Local hospitals have been alerted to a “mass casualty incident” and police officers are taking people to hospital themselves, not waiting for ambulances
Terrifying: Several witnesses have said there were children at the screening and one reported there was a baby in the theatre
Crime scene: Police officers took witness statements. The 6ft tall man, dressed in black and wearing a gas mask opened fire at the showing of The Dark Knight Rises and set off a smoke or tear gas bomb
Emergency: Outside the Swedish Medical Center ER where two people are in a critical condition – local hospitals have been alerted to a “mass casualty incident”
Anxious: Film-goers wait nervously across the street as Aurora Police strung crime scene tape around the parking lot encircling the movie theatre
President Obama made a statement in the early hours of this morning to pass on his condolences to the families and to offer his support to Aurora.
“Michelle and I are shocked and saddened by the horrific and tragic shooting in Colorado,” he said.
“Federal and local law enforcement are still responding, and my Administration will do everything that we can to support the people of Aurora in this extraordinarily difficult time.
“We are committed to bringing whoever was responsible to justice, ensuring the safety of our people, and caring for those who have been wounded.
“As we do when confronted by moments of darkness and challenge, we must now come together as one American family.
Christian Bale, left, as Batman in The Dark Knight Rises and Tom Hardy as Bane. There were suggestions that the gunman was influenced by Bane, a character in the film which wears a dark mask covering his face
Scene: A map shows the movie theatre and the location of the gunman”s home in North Aurora
“Allof us must have the people of Aurora in our thoughts and prayers as they confront the loss of family, friends, and neighbors, and we must stand together with them in the challenging hours and days to come.”
Mitt Romney added: “Ann and I are deeply saddened by the news of the senseless violence that took the lives of 15 people [sic ]in Colorado and injured dozens more.
“We are praying for the families and loved ones of the victims during this time of deep shock and immense grief. We expect that the person responsible for this terrible crime will be quickly brought to justice.”
Holmes is expected to appear in court on Monday.
Aurora is located on the outskirts of Denver, about 10 miles southeast of downtown.
It is the worst mass shooting in Colorado since the Columbine High School massacre on April 20, 1999. Fifteen died, including the shooters.
Students Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, opened fire at the school in the Denver suburb of Littleton, about 15 miles west of Aurora, killing 12 classmates and a teacher and wounding 26 others before killing themselves in the school”s library.
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