A suspect was apprehended in the shopping center’s parking lot, Oates said.He was named as 24-year-old James Holmes.
Twelve people were killed and at least 50 others wounded early Friday when a gunman wearing a bullet-proof vest opened fire during a midnight screening of the latest Batman movie near Denver, authorities and witnesses said.
A three-month-old child and a six-year-old girl were among those treated, according to reports.
Authorities said the gunman had appeared at the front of the theater during the film and released a canister of tear gas. Witnesses told reporters that the gunfire erupted during a shootout scene in “The Dark Knight Rises”.
“It was mass chaos,” witness Jennifer Seeger told TODAY. The gunman shot the ceiling and then “he threw in the gas can, and then I knew it was real.”
“I told my friend, ‘We’ve got to get out of here,’ but then he shot people trying to go out the exits,” she recalled. She said the shooter made his way up the aisle, shooting as he went, saying nothing.
Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates initially told journalists that 14 people had been killed but the figure was later lowered to 12.
The incident occurred in the Century 16 Movie Theaters at the Aurora Town Center, police told NBC News. Aurora is a suburb less than 10 miles east of downtown Denver.
NBC station KUSA-Denver cited a witness as seeing a black-clad 6-foot-tall man wearing a riot helmet, goggles and bullet-proof vest.
However, many people attended the film dressed in Batman-related costumes.
Witnesses said the gunman entered the theater through an emergency exit door.
The suspect was found in possession of a gas mask, Oates said. Ammunition was found in the suspect’s car, police said.
The shooter had three weapons — an assault-type rifle and two handguns, officials told NBC News. Holmes’ car has Tennessee plates but authorities say he was living locally.
Holmes’ apartment building in north Aurora was evacuated after he made a statement to police about possible explosives at his home, Oates said. Local and federal authorities later entered the apartment.
An FBI official said that the agency was working with local authorities on the investigation, but that there was no early indication of a link to terrorism. Holmes was not on any federal law-enforcement watch lists.