Reuters and Yahoo confirm that approximately 12 people were killed and around 50 people were injured at “The Dark Knight Rises” screening at the Century 16 Movie cinema complex in the suburb of Aurora in Denver, Colorado in the early hours of this morning. The death toll, originally pegged at 14, has been revised down.
The attacker was reportedly wearing military-style ballistic gear including a bullet-proof vest and gas mask, and was armed with an AR-15 assault rifle along with a shotgun and two handguns. According to some reports had dyed his hair like The Joker from the Batman comic and media universe.
The attacker appeared at the front of the theater about 20 minutes into the movie, threw a gas canister of some kind and then opened fire on the crowd.
A suspect identified as 24-year-old James Holmes was taken into custody in the parking lot behind the theater, offering no resistance to arrest. Holmes had just withdrawn from a neuroscience Ph.D program at the University of Colorado last month and has no prior record.
President Barack Obama released the following statement about the incident:
“Michelle and I are shocked and saddened by the horrific and tragic shooting in Colorado. 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. All of 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.”
Christopher Nolan, the director of “The Dark Knight Rises”, has also released a statement:
Speaking on behalf of the cast and crew of The Dark Knight Rises, I would like to express our profound sorrow at the senseless tragedy that has befallen the entire Aurora community.
I would not presume to know anything about the victims of the shooting but that they were there last night to watch a movie. I believe movies are one of the great American art forms and the shared experience of watching a story unfold on screen is an important and joyful pastime.
The movie theatre is my home, and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me.
Nothing any of us can say could ever adequately express our feelings for the innocent victims of this appalling crime, but our thoughts are with them and their families.
The tragedy has affected the film’s release. Screenings of the film are continuing as planned, but a lot of major cinema chains in both the United States and the United Kingdom are increasing on-site security measures. AMC is banning people who turn up in costumes, masks and fake weapons.
Deadline reports that copies of the trailer for the studio’s “Gangster Squad”, which features a scene in which gunmen open fire on a crowded movie theater, are being pulled. Networks are also pulling commercials for “The Dark Knight Rises” out of sensitivity.
Also in deference to the victims, Warners has released a statement confirming that out of respect for the victims and their families, they will not be reporting box office numbers throughout the weekend. The first official numbers from them will be released on Monday.
Finally, Variety reports that the studio is considering cancelling the remainder of the film’s international press tour in the wake of the incident with premieres and junkets in Mexico City and Tokyo next week said to already be scrapped.