The United States is in shock after a masked gunman killed at least 12 people at a midnight screening of the new Batman film.
Police say he hurled a tear gas canister into the auditorium and began firing at cinema-goers in Denver, Colorado, sparking pandemonium.
About 50 people were wounded in the attack as the ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ was being shown in the Aurora suburb.
“A cop came walking through the door, holding a little girl in his arms, and she wasn’t moving,” said witness Alex Milano. “I had heard another witness who was in my theatre…. she was on the phone and the really messed up part for me was she told whoever she was talking to that she saw bullet holes in the little girl’s back.”
Police said a suspect was arrested in the car park behind the cinema. He has been identified as 24-year-old James Holmes who was carrying a knife, an assault rifle and two other guns. A fourth weapon was found inside the cinema. Holmes was dressed all in black and wearing a bullet-proof vest when apprehended, he also had a gas mask.
Holmes, who is expected to appear in court later today, was a graduate student of neuroscience at the University of Colorado, Denver. The university said he was in the process of withdrawing from that college.
A search was conducted of Holmes’ apartment amid fears of explosives there. He had reportedly told investigators that his home was booby-trapped, but the FBI said no explosives were found.
President Barack Obama has urged Americans to “stand together” with the people of Aurora in the hours and days to come.
The studio that made the film – Warner Brothers – said it was “deeply saddened” by what had happened and it was cancelling the Paris premiere.
Colorado has suffered mass killings in the past. In 1999, two students opened fire at Columbine High School in the suburb of Littleton, near Denver, killing 12 students and a teacher.