James Holmes, 24, identified as suspect in deadly mass shooting at Colorado movie theater showing 'Dark Knight Rises'

1:08 PM, Jul 20, 2012   |    comments
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James Holmes' student ID photo


(CBS News) -- The suspect apprehended in the mass shooting at a suburban Denver movie theater has been identified as James Holmes, 24, law enforcement sources told CBS News correspondent Bob Orr.

Pictures: Dark Knight shooting scene

Twelve people died in the shooting at a showing of the new Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises" in Aurora, Colo., early Friday morning. A law enforcement source told Orr the shooting appears to have been carried out by a lone gunman.

There was also no immediate word of any motive. Federal law enforcement officials are being briefed on the attack, but at this point there is no indication it is terrorism-related, CBS News senior correspondent John Miller reports. 

Gallery: Tweets, real time social media from Dark Knight shooting scene *warning, VERY GRAPHIC content*

A law enforcement source told Orr that Holmes' residence was "booby-trapped," and that police saw what looked like "buckets of extra ammunition" and some kind of chemical inside his home.

The suspect spoke of "possible explosives in his residence. We are dealing with that potential threat," Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates told reporters at a news conference.

Police were at the Denver-area apartment and had evacuated other residents of the building. Oates did not say whether any explosives had been found. He said police also checked for explosives in the parking lot and theater and had secured those areas.

Police recovered four guns at the theater, including two pistols, a shotgun and what is believed to be an assault rifle, Orr reports. Authorities also recovered a gas mask.

The violent and chaotic scene erupted about 12:30 a.m. local time as the gunman stood at the front of one of the Century 16 theaters at the Aurora Mall. Witnesses reported that the gas-mask-wearing gunman entered the theater through an emergency exit door and threw a gas canister before opening fire.

"Witnesses tell us he released some sort of canister. They heard a hissing sound and some gas emerged and the gunman opened fire," Oates said. 

Police, ambulances and emergency crews swarmed on the scene after frantic calls started flooding the 911 switchboard, officials said.

Officers found Holmes near a car behind the theater.

It was the worst mass shooting in Colorado since the Columbine High School massacre on April 20, 1999. 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.

The shooting occurred in Theater 9, which has a capacity of around 300 people, according to CBS station KCNC-TV in Denver. The youngest reported victim is a 3-month-old, who is said to be doing fine at University Hospital, which is treating 20 patients, including nine in critical condition. Another victim is a six-year-old being treated at Children's Hospital, where a total of six victims were taken. Their condition wasn't known. Victims were rushed to six area hospitals overall.

Aurora police spokesman Frank Fania on ABC's "Good Morning America" said he didn't know yet if all the injuries were gunshot wounds. He said some might have been caused by other things such as shrapnel.

Police had earlier reported 14 deaths but later said that only 12 fatalities were confirmed.

Police released a written statement from Holmes' family: "Our hearts go out to those who were involved in this tragedy and to the families and friends of those involved. We ask that the media respect our privacy during this difficult time. Our family is cooperating with authorities in both San Diego, California and Aurora, Colorado. We are still trying to process this information and we appreciate that people will respect our privacy."

An amateur video posted to YouTube showed people walking around outside the theater, apparently in the moments after the incident. One man was seen wearing a shirt that appeared to be bloodstained. He was being led by a police officer. Some people could be heard shouting.

William Kent, who was in an adjacent theater, said bullets came through the wall but, with the action on screen, people didn't realize what was happening.

"And they started the fire alarm or the emergency alarm, said that there had been something that happened in the building and evacuated everybody. There was a huge commotion to get out of the theater. When I exited, there were police officers with assault rifles running in," Kent told CBS News.

Benjamin Fernandez, who was also in an adjacent theater, said he saw a young girl, around 12 or 13 years old, laying on the concrete when he exited the building.  

"From what I saw, she had two bullet wounds in her leg and just blood all over her stomach. Her friends were all just yelling, crying. ... We were just all pretty much in shock," he said on "CBS This Morning."

Witness Hayden Miller told KUSA-TV that he was inside Theater 16 and heard several shots.

"Like little explosions going on and shortly after that we heard people screaming," he told the station.

Hayden said at first he thought it was part of a louder movie next door. But then he saw "people hunched over leaving theater."

Paul Otermat, who told Sky News he was in the theater when the incident occurred, said he "thought it was a publicity stunt," when he saw a man in a long coat walk in and hurl what he believed was a tear gas canister at the crowd.

"Then he started firing shots into the crowd," Otermat said. He said he and his girlfriend ducked to the floor and crept out as gunfire continued. "My girlfriend saw a canister on the ground that was still foaming ... We ran through the lobby and we heard more shots, and we ran out into the parking lot and got into our car and left."

The police said 10 victims died at the theater and two at area hospitals.

Two people in critical condition were rushed to nearby Swedish Medical Center, spokeswoman Nicole Williams said.

She said emergency crews told her staff to prepare for several more patients from the shooting scene.

"We're on standby to receive," she said.

Aurora is located on the southeast outskirts of Denver, about 10 miles from downtown.

President Obama said in a statement that he and first lady Michelle Obama were "shocked and saddened" by the "horrific and tragic" shooting. Mr. Obama said his administration would do everything they can to support the people of Aurora.

"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," Mr. Obama said.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said in a statement that he and his wife, Ann, were "deeply saddened by the news of the senseless violence" that led to the loss of life and injuries. He said they were 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."

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Gallery: Tweets, real time social media from Dark Knight shooting scene *warning, VERY GRAPHIC content*

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