Woodward, Okla. — AURORA, Colo. (AP) — A gunman in a gas mask barged into a crowded Denver-area theater during a midnight premiere of the Batman movie on Friday, hurled a gas canister and then opened fire, killing 12 people and injuring at least 50 others in one of the deadliest mass shootings in recent U.S. history.
When the gas began to spread, some moviegoers thought it was a stunt that was part of the "The Dark Knight Rises," one of the most highly anticipated films of the summer. Then they saw a silhouette of a person in the smoke near the screen, first pointing a gun at the crowd and shooting.
"There were bullet (casings) just falling on my head. They were burning my forehead," Jennifer Seeger said, adding that the gunman, dressed like a SWAT team member, fired steadily except when he stopped to reload.
"Every few seconds it was just: Boom, boom, boom," she said. "He would reload and shoot and anyone who would try to leave would just get killed."
The suspect was taken into custody and identified by federal law enforcement officials as 24-year-old James Holmes. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.
Authorities did not release a motive. The FBI said there was no indication that the shooting is tied to any terrorist groups.
Victims are being treated for chemical exposure apparently related to canisters thrown by the gunman. Some of those injured are children, including a 3-month-old infant who was shot.
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.
The movie opened across the world Friday with midnight showings in the U.S. Guards were at a screening at a movie theater in New York's Times Square. The shooting prompted officials to cancel the Paris premiere, with workers pulling down the red carpet display at a theater on the famed Champs-Elysees Avenue.