Real Tragedy in the Movie TheaterTragedy is something that is expected to be seen in the movie theater. Violence, gruesomeness, hurt, pain, torture and death are graphically portrayed on the screen in movie theaters all across the United States on a daily basis.
However, that tragedy is supposed to be fiction, make-believe. It is supposed to be confined to the screen, not something that really, literally takes place in the movie theater.
On Thursday night, July 19, 2012, in theater No. 9 at the Century 16 in Aurora, Colorado, a suburb of Denver, people went to see the midnight showing of the much anticipated new Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises. What they thought would be a couple of hours of relaxation, entertainment and escaping reality, quickly turned into a very real reality of terror and tragedy.
Dressed all in black
Somewhere around 12:30 a.m., as a gun battle was taking place during the movie, the gunman came in through an emergency exit door near the front of the theater. Witnesses said that the gunman was a tall, muscular man who wore a riot helmet, gas mask, full body armor and was dressed all in black. One witness said that he looked like a SWAT team member.
Federal law enforcement officials identified the suspected gunman as 24-year-old James Holmes. Holmes lives in a third-floor apartment about 4 miles away from the theater.
According to University of Colorado Hospital spokeswoman Jacque Montgomery, James Holmes was studying neuroscience in a Ph.D. program at the University of Colorado-Denver graduate school. However, Montgomery said that Holmes was in the process of withdrawing from the neuroscience program that he had enrolled in, in 2011.
Used emergency exit door
Officials said that the suspect purchased a ticket for the movie. Once he got inside the theater, the suspect propped open an emergency exit door at the front of theater No. 9. It was through this emergency exit door that the suspect re-entered the theater armed with 4 weapons and a tear gas canister. The weapons included one AR-15 rifle, a Remington 870 shotgun and two 40-caliber Glock handguns.
Standing at the front of the theater, the alleged gunman James Holmes threw the gas canister and started shooting. Witnesses said that the gunman stopped shooting only to reload and appeared as if he were calm and having fun. It was while the gunman was reloading that spectators had to decide between staying on the ground, helping wounded victims or running away.
In this tragedy at the movie theater, 12 people were killed and 59 others injured. It was one of the worst mass shootings in the history of the United States.
Victims taken to area hospitals
Victims were transported to at least 6 area hospitals. This included 6 victims being taken to the Childrens Hospital, 23 to the University of Colorado Hospital and 15 to the Medical Center of Aurora.
The suspect James Holmes was arrested without incidence behind the movie theater by the police. The suspects third-floor apartment was found to be extensively booby-trapped, with numerous liter bottles connected with cord or wires arranged in the front room, in addition to other unknown items or devices. Because of the elaborate steps that had been taken to arm the apartment, authorities believe that the suspect had allegedly been planning an attack for a long time. Holmes is due in court on Monday morning at 8:30 a.m.