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Monthly Archives: July 2012

Colorado theatre shooting: 12 killed after gunman opens fire at Batman movie

Colorado theatre shooting: 12 killed after gunman opens fire at Batman movie

BARRY GUTIERREZ/APJacob Stevens, 18, hugs his mother Tammi Stevens after being interviewed by police outside Gateway High School where witness were brought for questioning after a shooting at a movie theatre in Denver.
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Sari Horwitz and Bill Turque 
The Washington Post 



The madness, once again, descended without warning. This time, instead of Virginia Tech, Columbine or Fort Hood, it was a suburban Denver multiplex where a heavily armed man clad in black came through an emergency entrance, set off canisters of an unknown gas and opened fire in a darkened theatre early Friday morning.

Authorities in Aurora, Colo., are just beginning to piece together how and why the suspected gunman, James Holmes, 24, allegedly killed 12 people and wounded 59 others during the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises.

One of the dead was Jessica Ghawi, an aspiring sportscaster who narrowly missed being in the Eaton Centre food court during the fatal shooting there last month.

Emerging details suggested that Holmes, a University of Colorado graduate student who was in the process of withdrawing from his neuroscience program, was coming from an ominous place. His apartment, about six kilometres from the Century 16 theatre, was rigged with wires and incendiary materials, authorities said. Bomb technicians were trying determine whether they were a hoax or posed a real danger.

Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said in a news conference that the investigations at the apartment would be put on hold overnight and resume Saturday.

The only near-certainty Friday was that the gunman had acted alone and not as part of a terrorist group or other conspiracy. Federal law enforcement sources said that Holmes bought a ticket, entered the theatre, then left and returned through an emergency exit.

“We are not looking for any other suspects,” Oates told reporters. “We are confident that he acted alone, but we will do a thorough investigation to make sure that is the case.”

Witnesses recounted scenes of chaos and bloodshed inside Theatre 9.

Chris Ramos, 20, a Starbucks barista seated in the fifth row, said that about 20 minutes into the movie, someone at the front of the auditorium tossed what looked like stuffed toy baseball bats into the crowd. He said he thought the canisters were some sort of promotional gimmick for the film.

More: Victim of Colorado theatre shooting was also at Eaton Centre shooting

“The first sign that something was wrong was when the guy next to me got shot,” said Ramos, who attended the premiere with his sister and two friends. “I shielded my 17-year-old sister on the floor. I started crying, not because I was afraid, but because the tear gas started to burn my eyes.”

The gunman looked calm and uttered not a word as he walked up an aisle, firing as he went, witnesses said.

It was complete panic as survivors pushed to reach the exits, Ramos said, adding that he was kicked in the face several times by people trying to get up off the floor and out of the aisle. He estimated that the shooting continued for a minute and a half.

Salina Jordan, 19, was in an adjoining theatre watching the same movie when she heard a series of pops.

“It was so in sync we thought it was part of the movie,” she said. “We thought it was a special effect because they were trying to do it up big for opening night.”

Read moreHollywood, movie theatres respond to tragedy

Then bullets began piercing the wall. A teenager to Jordan’s right was shot in the jaw. A fire alarm went off.

Officers arrived at the theatre complex within 90 seconds of receiving the first 911 call at 12:39 a.m., authorities said.

In the lobby, near the concession stands, SWAT teams trained their guns on Theatre 9. They directed frightened patrons to remain in place — or to run for the exits — as gunfire started and stopped. Jordan said she watched a police officer carry out the inert body of a young girl, who appeared to be about 9.

“She had been shot through her stomach, and the blood was just coming out,” Jordan said. “Her body was so limp. And her face, there was no life in her face.”

Police almost immediately arrested Holmes, who was next to his white Hyundai outside a rear entrance to the theatre. Oates said he was wearing a “ballistic helmet,” a bulletproof vest, leggings, a throat protector, a groin protector, a gas mask and protective gloves.

Federal law enforcement sources said that all four guns they think were used in the attack — two Glock pistols, a Remington 12-gauge shotgun and a Smith & Wesson AR-15 assault rifle — were purchased legally over the past two months from the local branches of two national chains: Gander Mountain and Bass Pro Shop.

Read moreShooting renews gun control debate

Authorities began early Friday evening to remove the bodies of 10 victims that remained inside the theatre. (Two of the 12 victims died later in hospital.) Oates says officers expect to get a confirmed list of the deceased and meet with their families Friday night.

The Pentagon said that three military personnel were injured in the shooting and that another service member at the theatre remained unaccounted for.

Eleven of the 70 people injured in the shooting rampage remained in critical condition on Friday evening, police said. Thirty were still hospitalized, Oates said.

James Denton, trauma director for the Medical Center of Aurora, said 12 patients were admitted with gunshot wounds and three were treated for chemical exposure. The victims ranged in age from 16 to 31.

In Aurora, police converged on Holmes’ apartment, in a modest neighbourhood about six kilometres from the theatre, about 2 a.m. Friday, after he indicated that it contained explosives.

Oates initially told reporters that the apartment, No. 10, appeared to be rigged with “pretty sophisticated” explosives. But at a news conference later, he said that bomb technicians were trying to determine whether the maze of wires and incendiary materials was a legitimate danger.

Kaitlyn Fonzi, 20, said she lives in the apartment below the suspect’s. About midnight on Friday, she said she heard techno-like, reverberating music coming from his unit. She went upstairs to the suspect’s place and put her hand on the door handle. She felt it was unlocked, but she didn’t know if he was there and decided not to confront him.

“I yelled out and told him I was going to call the cops and went back to my apartment,” she said.

Fonzi called police, who told her they were busy with a shooting and did not have time to respond to a noise disturbance. She said she was shaken to learn later that the apartment was booby trapped.

“I’m concerned if I had opened the door, I would have set it off,” she said.

She said she believes the music was on a timer because it started about the time of the shootings.

Holmes, who will have a preliminary court appearance on Monday, had no previous contact with the Aurora Police Department, save for a 2011 traffic summons for speeding, Oates said. 

With files from Star wire services

Also on the Star:

Christopher Nolan, movie theatres react to tragedy 

Colorado shooting halts U.S. election campaign, rekindles gun control debate


Video: Toddler hit in Colorado Shooting 


Video: Witness describes being at centre of shooting rampage



Video: Witness thought shooting was part of the movie



Video: Witness recalls how people started dropping




Video: FBI searches suspect’s apartment



Video: Witness recalls the theatre shooting:–colorado-theatre-shooting-14-dead-after-gunman-opens-fire-on-the-dark-knight-rises-audience


Gunman who massacred 12 at movie premiere used same drugs that killed Batman star Heath Ledger

Gunman who massacred 12 at movie premiere used same drugs that killed Batman star Heath Ledger and messaged web lovers to ask… Will you visit me in prison?

  • Police believe he had grown fixated by Batman films and may have been hooked on prescription painkiller  found in the system of Heath Ledger
  • Specialists had to disarm booby-traps ‘set to kill’ inside his apartment
  • Shooter James Holmes, 24, dropped out from neuroscience PhD at University of Colorado in June
  • 58 injured and 12 dead, including Jessica Ghawi, AJ Boik, Alex Sullivan, Micayla Medek, John Thomas Larimer and Matt McQuinn
  • Killer had arsenal of 6,000 rounds which he bought at local shops and online

By Caroline Graham and Ian Gallagher

PUBLISHED: 08:39 GMT, 20 July 2012 | UPDATED: 22:46 GMT, 21 July 2012

Until a year ago James Eagan Holmes was regarded as an almost model citizen, a clean-cut all-American boy.

Sporty, family-minded, a brilliant scholar, the boy from the beach city of San Diego, California, appeared destined for a life of fulfilment.

‘He washed the car for his parents, he cut the grass, he played soccer,’ said Tom Mai, who has lived next to the Holmes family for 15 years.

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Profile: James Holmes, left, who allegedly launched an attack on a cinema during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises and claimed to be ‘The Joker’, played by Heath Ledger (right)

Source: Holmes is believed to have bought guns from this hunting and fishing store in Denver

‘Killer’: James Holmes burst into a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado and fired indiscriminately at audience members at the new Batman film

‘We all had drinks together at Christmas and he served cookies to my children. He was a typical American boy. We drank hot apple cider together. There was nothing bad about him.’

Or so he thought.

Yesterday Holmes, 24, was maintaining his right to silence, declining to explain to detectives why, over several months, he assembled a terrifying arsenal – including a Remington shotgun, an AR-15 assault rifle and 6,000 rounds of ammunition – then indiscriminately fired on film-goers at a midnight screening of the Batman premiere in Denver, Colorado.

Unwilling to spare anyone, he killed 12, among them a six-year-old girl, Veronica Moser. He wounded 59 others, including a three-month-old baby.

After his arrest he told police that he was the Joker, Batman’s nemesis. Beyond that, nothing.

Last night, however, it was revealed that in a profile created by Holmes on an adult website earlier this month, he asks of prospective lovers: ‘Will you visit me in prison?’

Trail of blood: A line of blood leads from the emergency exit of the cinema, from where James Holmes launched his killing spree, and past the suspect’s car

Gruesome: An ATF agent examines the grisly scene left outside the movie theater where Holmes allegedly opened fire on dozens of unarmed spectators

Arsenal: The gas mask and assault rifle left at the cinema by James Holmes after the shootings

Family home: A woman identified by neighbors as James Holmes’ grandmother arrives at his family home in San Diego

There have been reports that his mother Arlene and father Robert, a software company manager, who live in a four-bedroom Spanish-style villa, instinctively knew their son was to blame when they heard news of Friday’s shootings.

Certainly they were aware that his life had begun to unravel over the past year, that for reasons still unclear he was living as a near recluse. He was behaving erratically too, trawling adult sex sites, taking drugs and leaving neighbours in the Denver suburb of Aurora with the impression he was deeply troubled.

Police believe he had grown fixated by the Batman films and there are unconfirmed reports he became hooked on the narcotic prescription painkiller Vicodin, which was found in the system of Heath Ledger, the actor who played the Joker. Ledger died of an overdose in 2008.

Publicly, at least, Holmes’s parents are not saying whether they know or can guess what made him snap, yet it appears that unlike others in America’s roll call of mass killers, he was no sociopath. Nor is there anything to suggest he had endured childhood trauma.

Weapons of choice: He had a Colt AR-15 Tactical Carbine and .40 caliber glock handgun (file pictures)

Power: He also had a Remington 870 Marine Magnum (pictured) with him, and another glock in his car

Recluse: Holmes went to high school in San Diego, where his parents still live; he is pictured right in his 2005 high school yearbook

Sumit Shah, a friend at Westview High School in San Diego, said: ‘Jimmy was pretty shy but once he got comfortable with you he was the funniest, smartest guy. The guy I knew was harmless.’

Experts believe it is more likely that Holmes was suffering from a genetic psychotic illness which could have acted like a ‘time bomb’ set to go off any time between the ages of 15 and 25.

Holmes began studying for a PhD in neuroscience at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver last year but dropped out a month ago. The last course he took was in mental illnesses and psychiatric disorders, according to the college.

Previously he had studied at the University of California where he obtained a first-class honours degree in neuroscience. Chancellor Timothy White said he had been a ‘brilliant student’.

Profile: Holmes says he is single and looking for ‘a fling or casual sex’

Discarded: Investigators look over evidence on ground outside the back door of the movie theatre. The gunman had been wearing head-to-toe ballistic gear

Television news crews set up for their live reports in front of the home of Robert and Arlene Homes, parents of James

Yet despite his degree Holmes was forced to take a job at the local McDonald’s after graduating in 2010. Mr Mai said: ‘He couldn’t get a job so he went back to school to get his doctorate. The family go to a local Presbyterian Church and Jimmy was active in the church. When he was here he was clean-cut, well-spoken and a good kid.’

Last night, Holmes’s mother was joined by his grandmother at the San Diego family home, which was besieged by television crews. His father arrived in Colorado and was taken to the Arapaho County Jail to see his son, who was in an isolation cell for his own safety.

On July 5 Holmes had set up an account on the AdultFriendFinder website, with the name ‘ClassicJimbo’. He said he was looking for ‘casual sex or a fling’, adding the cryptic message: ‘Will you visit me in prison?’

His profile, which shows him with dyed orange hair, describes himself as a ‘light/social drinker’, but in answer to a question about whether he takes drugs he answers: ‘Prefer not to say.’ He adds: ‘Am a nice guy. Well, as nice enough of a guy who does these sort of shenanigans.’

Marietta Perkins of Denver prays for victims and their families at a memorial near the Aurora Theatre, Colorado

A makeshift memorial is shown behind the Century 16 movie theatre where a gunman attacked movie goers during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises

Someone who has grown up in Aurora leaves a note expressing their sorrow for the victims of the massacre

Marietta Perkins falls to her knees in sorrow and prayer at a vigil across the street form the movie theater, Friday, in Aurora

Vigil: Mourners weep at a prayer meeting outside the massacre site on Friday evening

Police are investigating whether he may have ‘scrubbed’ other online profiles, as no trace of him could be found on Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace or Twitter. When he enrolled to do his doctorate, Holmes’s demeanour appeared to change.

Distraught: A woman uses a cell phone as she sits on the steps at Gateway High School near the scene in Aurora, Colorado

One neighbour at the university-run apartment block where Holmes lived, who gave his name only as Ben, said: ‘He was a recluse. He had no friends. He lost weight. His eyes didn’t look right. No one knew him, no one knew him at all.’

Last night the block remained sealed off as police dealt with a sophisticated booby trap.

Kaitlyn Fonzi – a 20-year-old biology student who lives directly below Holmes with boyfriend Chris Rodriguez, 30 – said she feared the gunman may have tried to lure them into his rigged apartment. She said she heard techno music blaring between 11.30pm and 1am on Thursday night into Friday morning: ‘I went upstairs and knocked on the door. When no one answered I put my hand on the door knob and realised it was unlocked. It felt weird so I didn’t go inside.’

Yesterday makeshift memorials sprung up by the cinema, where the horror of the tragedy was starkly portrayed by a line of bloody footprints leading from an exit door.

And last night Christian Bale, who stars as Batman in the film, said his heart went out to the victims.

‘Words cannot express the horror that I feel,’ he said in a statement. ‘I cannot begin to truly understand the pain and grief of the victims and their loved ones.’

Holmes is due to appear in court tomorrow morning.

Bomb squad sent in robot to clear flat of 30 booby-trap bombs

Sophisticated booby traps designed to blow up anyone entering James Holmes’s flat were defused last night.

In a delicate operation, police were trying to make the apartment safe and to preserve any evidence that may explain the rampage.

Sergeant Cassidee Carlson said: ‘We have been successful in defeating the first threat. The trip wire was set up to clearly detonate an incendiary device when a person entered the apartment.’

Rigged: Officers prepare to disarm the booby-trapped apartment of suspect James Holmes, which is feared to be armed with trip wires

Later, Sgt Carlson said: ‘We have been successful in disabling a second triggering device’, adding that the device was ‘set up to kill’.

The bomb squad used a robot to place a tube – known as a water shot – near a device in the flat. The water shot was then detonated to disable the explosive.

At least 30 explosive devices – some in clear one-litre cola bottles filled with an unidentified liquid – were spotted by teams using cameras attached to robots searching inside the flat.

Wires: Specialists line a window with wires for an explosion at the apartment where suspect James Holmes lived in Aurora, Colorado

Precautions: A video camera on a pole is used to inspect the results of a controlled blast in one of the rooms of the apartment

Police believe the flat, a few miles from the cinema, may have been booby-trapped to create a diversion.

A source said: ‘Perhaps he wanted to lure someone into his apartment to set off the trip wire and cause an explosion. The emergency services would then have attended that incident, which would have diverted resources away from the movie theatre.’

The tactic was used by mass murderer Anders Breivik, who bombed government buildings in Oslo in July 2011 before killing 69 people, mostly teenagers, on the island of Utoya.

When police secured the area around Holmes’s apartment early yesterday they found a maze of wires and bottles of liquid inside.

Six-year-old died and her mother has bullet in stomach

Six-year-old Veronica Moser was last night named as the youngest of the 12 victims.

Veronica’s mother Ashley, 25, remains in a critical condition with bullets lodged in her throat and stomach.

Tales of bravery and heartache began to emerge as the faces  and experiences of those killed were revealed.

Victim: Jessica Ghawi, an aspiring TV presenter, was one of the 12 people shot dead in the massacre. She was tweeting about her excitement at seeing the film until moments before her death

Casualties: Micayla Medek, left, and Alex Sullivan, right, were both declared dead after having been missing

Death: AJ Boik was reported to be another victim of the murderous rampage inflicted on a Colorado cinema

Matt McQuinn, 26, was hailed a hero for diving in front of his girlfriend Samantha Yowler, 27, amid a hail of bullets.

Ms Yowler underwent surgery for a bullet wound to the knee and is said to be in a ‘good’ condition.

Family lawyer Rob Scott said: ‘When the shooting began, Matt dived on top of Samantha to protect her. Matt died a hero.’

Couple: Matt McQuinn, right, attended the movie with his girlfriend Samantha Yowler, left, and ended up being one of the casualties. His girlfriend was injured also

A picture of John Thomas Larimer, who was in the Century 16 cinema theatre in Aurora when James Holmes burst in firing. His family have confirmed that he was among the dead

Heartbreak: Mr Sullivan embraces family members outside Gateway High School after searching for his son

Victims: Mother of two Rebecca Wingo (left) and aspiring sports writer Jessica Ghawi were among the victims

In another tale of bravery,  ex-serviceman Jon Blunk pushed his girlfriend Jansen Young to the floor as the shooting started.

Ms Young said: ‘Jon gave me a good push against the concrete and then I didn’t feel his arms against my back any more. But I didn’t know he had died until I started shaking him. He took a bullet for me. I would not be here today if he’d not been next to me.’

Subway worker Micayla Medek, 23, was described by her family as the ‘girl with a golden smile’.

Evidence: The car was impounded by officials after being abandoned in the parking lot of the theatre

Despair: A young man grieves during a memorial service for the victims on Friday night

Resilience: Three mourners respond to the tragedy with a show of strength and national pride

Sad: Two girls attending the vigil outside the theatre which was the site of the tragic murders

Speechless: More people grieving at the theatre vigil which drew hundreds on Friday evening

Her aunt, Jenny Zakovich, said: ‘My brother called me and was absolutely hysterical, sobbing, “I want to get my baby and bring her home.” Cayla was the most wonderful girl with a golden smile that lit up a room.’

Alex Sullivan, 27, died in the cinema where he worked as a concession manager as he celebrated his birthday.

Just before the film started, he posted his last tweet, which read: ‘Oh man one hour till the movie and its going to be the best BIRTHDAY ever.’

Embrace: Eyewitness Jacob Stevens, 18, hugs his mother Tammi Stevens after being interviewed by police

Pain: Witnesses gather outside Gateway High School where they were brought for questioning

Emotion: Aurora police chief Daniel Oates was visibly moved when asked how the attack affected him

Towed: Holmes’s car being removed from the scene of the shooting on Friday evening

Loss: Four-year-old Myia Young lights a candle for the victims of the senseless attack on innocent cinemagoers

Crowds: In total, thousands of people attended vigils at churches and other sites around Aurora on Friday

A woman holds a candle at a makeshift memorial for victims of the Century 16 movie theatre where a gunmen attacked movie goers during an early morning screening of the new Batman movie

Horror: People gather outside the Century 16 movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado at the scene of a mass shooting – a masked gunman shot dead 12 people and wounded 50 others


The Dark Knight cinema massacre may have been inspired by a Batman comic book strip, it emerged on Friday.

The bloodbath is a chilling copycat of a 25-year-old Batman comic strip which features a deranged gunman opening fire in a cinema.

In the second issue of The Dark Knight Returns, written by Frank Miller – the creative mind behind Sin City and 300 – gunman Arnold Crimp opens fire in a pornographic theatre, killing three people, after listening to Led Zepplin’s classic track ‘Stairway to Heaven.’


Crimp then walks into a cinema, which is screening a pornographic film called My Sweet Satan, and opens fire.


Holmes motives behind the massacre are unknown, but if he was a fan of the Batman comics, then he may well have read the issue featuring Crimp’s killing-spree.


The comic itself is still in print, and on Friday it was available in several Waterstones’ book shops, priced £12.99.

He is survived by his wife Cassie, 25. The couple had been due to celebrate their first wedding anniversary today.

Friend Ryan Frost said he met Alex while waiting in line for a comic book auction. ‘We bonded over a love of comic books. He loved life.’ Mr Sullivan’s uncle, Joe Loewenguth, added: ‘He always made you laugh. He had a little bit of comic in him. Witty, smart. He had a big heart.’

Skateboard enthusiast AJ Boik, 19, was mourned by his tearful best friend Ahmaf Kalam, 17, who said: ‘I’ve known him since I was seven. He loved skateboarding. He was a fanatic.’

Ahmaf’s sister Cynthia Kalam added: ‘When the shooting started, we all hit the floor. I was crawling through sludge. It was a mixture of popcorn, soda and blood. I can’t believe we will never see AJ again.’

Jessica Ghawi, 24, was an aspiring sports journalist who survived a mall shooting in Toronto last month. She wrote afterwards: ‘I was reminded that we don’t know when or where our time on Earth will end.’

Mental health therapist Alex Teves, 24, was remembered as being ‘the friendliest kid on Earth’ and Navy Petty Officer John Larimer, 27, was called ‘an outstanding shipmate’ by his commanding officer.

Air Force Staff Sergeant Jesse Childress and mother-of-two Rebecca Wingo, 32, also died.

Survivor: Marcus Weaver shows the wounds he received in his arm during the shooting

Moment: The Colorado Rockies fell silent before their game against the San Diego Padres

Mourning: President Obama led a moment of silence for the victims from Florida on Friday morning

Christian Bale, left,  as Batman in The Dark Knight Rises and Tom Hardy as Bane. There were suggestions that the gunman was influenced by Bane, a character in the film which wears a dark mask covering his face

Scene: A map shows the movie theatre and the location of the gunman’s home in North Aurora–Will-visit-prison.html?printingPage=true

Dark Knight Rises’ shooting has eerie parallels to Arnold Crimp storyline from ‘Dark Knight Returns’ graphic novel

There are more disturbing details emerging about James Holmes, the man arrested in connection in with the shooting in an Aurora, Colo. movie theater that left 12 dead and dozens injured. The shooting took place during a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises”Thursday night (July 19).

Now cops are saying that Holmes had dyed his hair red and was calling himself “The Joker.”

“It clearly looks like a deranged individual. He had his hair painted red, he said he was ‘The Joker,’ obviously the enemy of Batman,” says New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly at a press conference. The connection to the New York Police Department is because Dan Oates, the chief of police in Aurora, was a longtime member of the NYPD before he moved out West.

Meanwhile, “Batman” franchise aficionados have noticed a similarity between the incident and a 1986 series of graphic novels written by Frank Miller. 

In “The Dark Knight Returns,” a mentally unstable man named Arnold Crimp enters a crowded movie theater with a gun and starts shooting movie-goers, killing three people. Some text from the graphic novel is below:

Arnold Crimp fingers the cold steel thing in his pocket and stares at the movie marquee and does not throw up. He thinks about Led Zeppelin and how they are trying to kill him. 

TV anchorman: “Three slain in Batman-inspired porn theater shoot-out. Details to follow . . .”

The page of the novel is below. It’s a rather eerie coincidence. 


Did ‘The Joker’ have an accomplice? Witness ‘saw someone let gunman into cinema before Colorado massacre’

MailOnline - news, sport, celebrity, science and health stories


Did ‘The Joker’ have an accomplice? Witness ‘saw someone let gunman into cinema before Colorado massacre’


By Hugo Gye

PUBLISHED: 23:13 GMT, 21 July 2012 | UPDATED: 23:13 GMT, 21 July 2012

Did he act alone? A witness says Colorado shooter James Holmes, pictured, may have had help

Did he act alone? A witness says Colorado shooter James Holmes, pictured, may have had help

Ever since news emerged of Thursday night’s massacre of 12 people during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises, it has been assumed that alleged gunman James Holmes acted alone.

However, a new eyewitness account has cast doubt on that account of the shooting.

One witness who saw Holmes launch his deadly attack says he thought he also saw someone open the doors of the movie theatre to let the shooter in.

The witness, who has not been named, told KCNC it appeared that a cinemagoer who left the screening after receiving a telephone call deliberately left the emergency exit open.

Holmes used the emergency exit to access the screening of the Hollywood blockbuster in Aurora, Colorado.

The witness said: ‘As I was sitting down to get my seat, I noticed that a person came up to the front row, the front right, sat down, and as credits were going, it seemed like he got a phone call.


‘So he went out toward the emergency exit doorway, which I thought was unusual to take a phone call. And it seemed like he probably pried it open, or probably did not let it latch all the way.

‘As soon as the movie started, somebody came in, all black, gas mask, armour, and threw a gas can into the audience, and it went off, and then there were gunshots that took place.’

Witness: This man claims to have seen someone leave the emergency exit of the cinema open for Holmes near the beginning of the film

Witness: This man claims to have seen someone leave the emergency exit of the cinema open for Holmes near the beginning of the film


Massacre: 12 people were left dead and 58 injured in the Colorado shooting

Massacre: 12 people were left dead and 58 injured in the Colorado shooting

Police have so far been unable to find a motive for the attack apparently launched by the suspect who calls himself ‘The Joker’.

There has not yet been any suggestion that Holmes had any accomplices – indeed, those who know him have described him as generally unsociable.

However, the grad school dropout had seemingly spent months planning the murderous assault, as he had amassed a stockpile of arms and explosives over long period of time.

Victims’ families and survivors may get more of an insight into Holmes’s motivation after his first court appearance on Monday morning.

Terror and tragedy mark ‘Batman’ on screen and off

Terror, tragedy mark ‘Batman’ on screen and off

WASHINGTON — With a fixation on random violence, Gotham City dysfunction and the death of a star, the “Batman” movies have long been consumed with tragedy and terror.

Now an unfathomable horror is forever linked to the series.

After the deadly shooting rampage at an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater where hundreds had gathered to see the area premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises,” it’s hard not to wonder whether the gunman was in any way inspired by the characters or chaos that are the hallmark of the lucrative movie franchise.

No one yet knows exactly why a black-clad man wearing a gas mask and full body armor burst into a theater with several weapons, and there is no proof that the horrific deed has a direct connection to the Batman saga.

But there is connection by default, and the film’s red-carpet premiere in Paris — where stars Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway and Morgan Freeman had been due to attend — was canceled Friday.

New York City police announced security was being stepped up at cinemas, in part “as a precaution against copycats.”

And Batman studio Warner Brothers said it was “deeply saddened to learn about this shocking incident” and extended its sympathies to families of the victims.

Even before the shooting, tragedy, loss and controversy haunted the Batman landscape, notably when Heath Ledger, the Hollywood star whose devilish portrayal of The Joker in the 2008 blockbuster “The Dark Knight” won him an Oscar, died months before that film’s release.

Director Chris Nolan has won plaudits for the ambitious finale of his brooding super-hero trilogy, which details the full breadth from childhood trauma — protagonist Bruce Wayne saw his parents murdered — his vow for revenge and his status as loner and eccentric billionaire crime-fighter, through to whatever awaits viewers at the end of the latest movie.

Its portrayal of terrorist attacks, anti-government uprisings and martyrdom in what clearly resembles New York is unsettling in the post-9/11 era.

Nolan’s reprisal of arch-villain Bane, a beast of a man who wears a mask and unleashes horrific attacks, caused a stir on American talk radio when a prominent conservative broadcaster savaged Hollywood for what he said were the film’s liberal political undercurrents.

Rush Limbaugh pointed out that Bane sounds just like Bain Capital, the private equity firm founded by Mitt Romney, the Republican who is challenging President Barack Obama for the White House.

When “Obama and the Democrats keep talking about Bain, not Bain Capital, but Bain, Romney and Bain… these people will think back to the Batman movie — ‘Oh yeah, I know who that is,'” Limbaugh argued.

Comic book writer Chuck Dixon, who created the Bane character in 1993, dismissed the comparison as “ridiculous.”

Political posturing aside, a debate has simmered for years about whether movies like “Batman” are the projector or the reflector of a culture of violence.

Hollywood and other popular culture staples, like rap and heavy metal music, are trotted out as scapegoats in the wake of tragedy, and some films have indeed inspired extreme acts.

John Hinckley Jr, who shot US president Ronald Reagan in 1981, had sent love letters to Jodi Foster, the child star of 1976 classic “Taxi Driver,” about a mentally unstable man who tries to kill a presidential candidate.

And Oliver Stone’s 1994 movie “Natural Born Killers” is believed by some to have inspired deadly shootings.

After Aurora, the veteran movie critic Roger Ebert rushed to the defense of film.

“I’m not sure there is an easy link between movies and gun violence. I think the link is between the violence and the publicity,” Ebert wrote in The New York Times.

The shooting suspect’s “inner terror expressed itself, as it often does these days, in a link between pop culture and firearms,” he said.

While the Batman effect on Holmes is not clear, the Caped Crusader has been swathed in violence since he was brought to life in a 1939 comic book, and observers turned to Batman Friday for possible clues to the Colorado tragedy.

Recent Batman films portray ineffective politicians, a corrupt police force under pressure from crime lords and terrorists, and a broken legal system, the embodiment of modern dysfunction in a fallen age.

Corey Graves, a wrestler in Florida, tapped into the incomprehension people expressed on social media over how someone could take so many innocent lives, with authorities powerless to stop the slaughter.

“Kinda makes you wish Batman was real, doesn’t it?” he posted on Twitter.

Toronto hockey player tells of grief over death of sportscaster girlfriend, Jessica Ghawi, killed in Colorado shooting

Toronto hockey player tells of grief over death of sportscaster girlfriend, Jessica Ghawi, killed in Colorado shooting




Jessica Ghawi died after a gunman wearing a gas mask started shooting at moviegoers waiting to watch a midnight showing of the new Batman movie.

The boyfriend of an aspiring sportscaster who was tragically killed in a mass shooting in a Colorado movie theatre Thursday night has told of his grief and devastation.

Jay Meloff, a Toronto junior hockey player, explained today that he last spoke with Jessica Ghawi, 24, right before she went to a movie in Aurora, a suburb of Denver. Moments later, a gunman sprayed bullets inside the packed cinema, killing 12 people and injuring 59 others.

In a cruel twist of fate, Ghawi had narrowly missed last month’s shooting at Toronto’s Eaton Centre shopping mall. She was in town visiting Meloff, who lives in nearby Markham.

“We just had such a bond right from the very first time we ever spoke to each other,” he said. “We were like the same person. It was perfect how we got along.”


Jessica Ghawi, 25, is one of the victims of the mass shooting at a movie theatre in Denver, Colorado.

Ghawi, who also used the last name Redfield, died after the gas mask-wearing gunman started shooting at moviegoers watching a midnight showing of the new Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises.” Police arrested 24-year-old James Holmes, a medical school drop-out. He was apprehended shortly after the attack outside a car beside the multiplex theatre.

Redfield was Ghawi’s grandmother’s maiden name, she once explained in a tweet, who always wanted to be a journalist but never had the chance.

On Friday, Meloff tweeted a series of heartfelt tributes to his girlfriend, a bubbly redhead working on a career in sports journalism.

“Every experience in life was amplified beyond my wildest dreams with you,” he wrote.

The pair met for the first time in Toronto, said Meloff’s mother Barb, when Ghawi came north to do an interview. She fit in with the family “like crazy,” Barb said.

“[She] was a very pretty girl, knew so much about sports, was just totally into sports, preparing for, obviously, her career as a sportscaster,” she said. “Oh, I’ll tell ya. And just an absolute hockey and sport factoid machine … my husband’s been a coach forever and ever in hockey and she could tell him things he didn’t know. A really interesting girl. I still can’t believe … I still cannot believe she’s gone.”

A post on Ghawi’s brother Jordan’s blog details what happened after the gunman entered the theatre and started firing his gun, according to Ghawi’s longtime friend, with whom she went to the movie.


Jessica Ghawi

When shots started to fly, the two dropped for cover.

Ghawi was hit in the leg first and her friend did his best to administer first aidJordan wrote. Her friend was then hit on the lower half of his body. When Ghawi suddenly stopped screaming, her friend looked over and saw she’d been shot in the head.

“[The friend] then took what may have been his only chance to escape the line of fire and exited the structure where he then contacted my mother,” Jordan Ghawi wrote. “[The friend’s] actions are nothing but heroic.”

Ghawi, described by friends as an intelligent and ambitious journalist, recently moved to Denver from Texas, according to TV station Kens5.

The young woman wrote on her blog about her experience missing the shooting in Toronto in June by only a few minutes. A lone gunman sprayed bullets in a crowded food court, killing one man instantly and injuring another who would later die in hospital.

In a blog post, Ghawi explains how she “felt funny” while sitting in the food court at Eaton Centre and decided to step outside to get some fresh air. Minutes later, shots rang out and shoppers started “funneling out of every exit,” she wrote.

“I’m not an EMT or a police officer. I’m not trained to handle crime and murder,” Ghawi wrote in a blog post on June 5.

“Gun crimes are fairly common where I grew up in Texas, but I never imagined I’d experience a violent crime first hand. I’m on vacation and wanted to eat and go shopping. Everyone else at the mall probably wanted the same thing. I doubt anyone left for the mall imagined they witness [sic] a shooting.”


This undated photo obtianed July 20, 2012 courtesy of the University of Colorado in Denver, Colorado shows suspect James Holmes.

Reached in Helotes, Texas, on Friday morning, Ghawi’s father Nick said his son flew out to Denver as soon as the family heard about the shooting.

Initially, authorities had not confirmed his daughter had died, he said.

“That’s why our son flew right away, he’s an EMT and a firefighter and he should be able to get through and confirm,” Nick said.

Tributes to the young woman began pouring out online and on Twitter. Condolences came from the You Can Play Project, an organization founded by the son of Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke.

Patrick Burke started to the organization to provide support for LGBT athletes. Ghawi was working for the Denver-based organization as an intern.

“Our staff is despondent today over the loss of our intern Jessica Redfield,” the organization tweeted. “We will miss her intelligence, kindness, and work ethic greatly.”

Denver Post columnist Adrian Dater said he exchanged a few messages with Ghawi on Twitter yesterday. The two also chatted a few weeks ago about internship programs and the journalism business.

“I’m in total disbelief,” he said.

“She was just moving into a new apartment and excited about that. She had a boyfriend, and was excited about that. We also talked about her being right there in the food court at the Eaton Centre when that random shooting happened, and how much it was still affecting her. Now this. She was a very smart, funny and ambitious person who wanted to make a go of it in the sports journalism business. It’s a tragedy.”

Barry Gutierrez / The Associated Press

Shamecca Davis hugs her son Isaiah Bow, who was an eye witness to the shooting, outside Gateway High School where witness were brought for questioning on Friday, July 20, 2012 in Denver. After leaving the theater Bow went back in to find his girlfriend.

Ghawi’s boyfriend Meloff is supposed to attend training for the Denver Cutthroats’ free agent camp in a few weeks, said Denver sports writer Cheryl Bradley.

“I just got off the phone with him. As you can imagine, he’s not doing to well,” Bradley said in an interview. “He’s supposed to come out for training camp. At this point, not sure what’s going to happen… I really hope he continues to play.”

Meloff’s mother Barb said Ghawi would have been upset if he didn’t continue to pursue hockey.

“Jessica would probably kick him in the butt if she found out he wasn’t going to go,” Barb said.

With files from Sean Fitz-Gerald, National Post, and The Canadian Press

Jessica Ghawi’s blog post about the Eaton Centre shooting
I can’t get this odd feeling out of my chest. This empty, almost sickening feeling won’t go away. I noticed this feeling when I was in the Eaton Center in Toronto just seconds before someone opened fire in the food court. An odd feeling which led me to go outside and unknowingly out of harm‘s way. It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around how a weird feeling saved me from being in the middle of a deadly shooting.

What started off as a trip to the mall to get sushi and shop, ended up as a day that has forever changed my life. I was on a mission to eat sushi that day, and when I’m on a mission, nothing will deter me. When I arrived at the Eaton Center mall, I walked down to the food court and spotted a sushi restaurant. Instead of walking in, sitting down and enjoying sushi, I changed my mind, which is very unlike me, and decided that a greasy burger and poutine would do the trick. I rushed through my dinner. I found out after seeing a map of the scene, that minutes later a man was standing in the same spot I just ate at and opened fire in the food court full of people. Had I had sushi, I would’ve been in the same place where one of the victims was found.

My receipt shows my purchase was made at 6:20 pm. After that purchase I said I felt funny. It wasn’t the kind of funny you feel after spending money you know you shouldn’t have spent. It was almost a panicky feeling that left my chest feeling like something was missing. A feeling that was overwhelming enough to lead me to head outside in the rain to get fresh air instead of continuing back into the food court to go shopping at SportChek. The gunshots rung out at 6:23. Had I not gone outside, I would’ve been in the midst of gunfire.

I walked around the outside of the mall. People started funneling out of every exit. When I got back to the front, I saw a police car, an ambulance, and a fire truck. I initially thought that maybe the street performer that was drumming there earlier had a heart attack or something. But more and more police officers, ambulances, and fire trucks started showing up. Something terrible has happened. I overheard a panicked guy say, “There was a shooting in the food court.” I thought that there was no way, I was just down there. I asked him what happened. He said “Some guy just opened fire. Shot about 8 shots. It sounded like balloons popping. The guy is still on the loose.” I’m not sure what made me stick around at this point instead of running as far away from the mall as possible. Shock? Curiosity? Human nature? Who knows.

Standing there in the midst of the chaos all around us, police started yelling to get back and make room. I saw a young shirtless boy, writhing on a stretcher, with his face and head covered by the EMS as they rushed him by us to get him into an ambulance. The moment was surprisingly calm. The EMTs helping the boy weren’t yelling orders and no one was screaming like a night time medical drama. It was as if it was one swift movement to get the boy out of the mall and into the ambulance. That’s when it really hit me. I felt nauseas. Who would go into a mall full of thousands of innocent people and open fire? Is this really the world we live in?

Police start yelling again “GET BACK NOW!” Another stretcher came rushing out of the mall. I saw a man on a stretcher, the blanket underneath him spotted with blood. Multiple gunshot holes in his chest, side, and neck were visible. It’s not like in the movies when you see someone shot and they’re bleeding continuously from the wound. There was no blood flowing from the wounds, I could only see the holes. Numerous gaping holes, as if his skin was putty and someone stuck their finger in it. Except these wounds were caused by bullets. Bullets shot out of hatred. His dark skin on his torso was tinted red with what I assume was his own blood. He was rushed into the ambulance and taken away.

More people joined the crowd at the scene and asked what happened. “There was a shooting in the food court,” kept being whispered through the crowd like a game of telephone. I was standing near a security guard when I heard him say over his walkie talkie, “One fatality.” At this point I was convinced I was going to throw up. I’m not an EMT or a police officer. I’m not trained to handle crime and murder. Gun crimes are fairly common where I grew up in Texas, but I never imagined I’d experience a violent crime first hand. I’m on vacation and wanted to eat and go shopping. Everyone else at the mall probably wanted the same thing. I doubt anyone left for the mall imagined they witness a shooting.

I was shown how fragile life was on Saturday. I saw the terror on bystanders’ faces. I saw the victims of a senseless crime. I saw lives change. I was reminded that we don’t know when or where our time on Earth will end. When or where we will breathe our last breath. For one man, it was in the middle of a busy food court on a Saturday evening.

I say all the time that every moment we have to live our life is a blessing. So often I have found myself taking it for granted. Every hug from a family member. Every laugh we share with friends. Even the times of solitude are all blessings. Every second of every day is a gift. After Saturday evening, I know I truly understand how blessed I am for each second I am given.

I feel like I am overreacting about what I experienced. But I can’t help but be thankful for whatever caused me to make the choices that I made that day. My mind keeps replaying what I saw over in my head. I hope the victims make a full recovery. I wish I could shake this odd feeling from my chest. The feeling that’s reminding me how blessed I am. The same feeling that made me leave the Eaton Center. The feeling that may have potentially saved my life.

#JamesHolmes rumor mill after #Aurora shootings: More viral than #Columbine

James Holmes rumor mill after Aurora shootings: More viral than Columbine

eric harris.jpg
Eric Harris.

In the aftershocks of the shootings at an Aurora theater that left twelve dead and dozens wounded, it’s inevitable that the tragedy would evoke comparisons to the 1999 attack on Columbine High School. Certainly, the instant online speculation about the shooter and his motives is eerily reminiscent of all the (mostly bogus) chatter about the Trench Coat Mafia that emerged after Columbine. But these days, the rumor mill touched off by a horror like this is a much more accelerated — and treacherous — phenomenon.

Back in 1999, people still turned to something called “television” for much of their information. And Columbine was a made-for-TV event, a crisis that quickly turned into a siege thanks to slow-moving (and since abandoned) police response tactics, and unfolded over a period of hours leading into prime time. In addition, the well-stocked staffs of two — yes, two — daily newspapers descended on the school, as well as reporters from around the world.

The story that emerged over the next few weeks about what happened at Columbine was, for the most part, subject to the traditional gatekeeping and we-know-what’s-best-for-you filtering of the mainstream media. That doesn’t mean they got it right. In fact, much of the lurid reporting about Goths and the supposed influence of Marilyn Manson was shoddy and goofy. Some reporters didn’t know how to access shooter Eric Harris’s AOL profile, or how to distinguish authentic online work by Harris and co-killer Dylan Klebold from imitations and forgeries, including a bogus suicide note that is still cited by duped Columbine researchers to this day.

dylan klebold eric harris surveillance image.jpg
Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold as seen in surveillance footage from the 1999 Columbine High School attack.

A true picture of the shooters and the why and how of the Columbine massacre unfolded over months and years, as more witnesses came forward and key documents in the official investigation were made public. That may also be the case in the Aurora shootings. But we’re an impatient bunch, far more accustomed to instant answers than we were even a decade ago — and far more willing, in the absence of hard information, to settle for gibberish.

A shooting at a midnight movie plays hell with the news cycle — too late for the print edition of our surviving daily, too early for the local blogosphere. A police press conference scheduled for later this morning could shed some more light, but in the meantime what’s trending online are the bare details of what’s known, notably the arrest of suspect James Holmes, and a great deal of what is not known and could be quite wrong.

The answers to anything, as everybody knows by now, are to be found on Facebook. Pity every James Holmes in the vicinity of Aurora (or Tennessee, since Holmes’s car had Tennessee plates) with a Facebook page; they’re now being “outed” as possibly “the guy” by amateur sleuths everywhere. “Were I guessing, I’d say this IS NOT the page, but nothing else on Facebook that seems to fit well,” reports one ace detective on Right Wing News. “All the guy is going to have to do to show it isn’t him is update.”

Elsewhere, the rumor mill is being rapidly stoked with vaguely sourced data concerning Holmes’s background and motives. On the aptly named site Hot Air, a commenter posts something he says comes from YouTube but references something that allegedly first appeared on the inane social media site 9gag:

A few weeks ago, a man by the username of ‘JamesHolmes154′ posted a thread on 9gag saying he was going to ‘shoot up’ a theater. He was clearly distressed and admitted he was suffering from PTSD. He said he was going to walk in and try to take as much lifes as possible. The whole 9gag community egged him on and give him tips on what to wear, etc. They give him tips on sharp-shooting and sent him messages on how to take as much lifes as possible. 9gag is a sick site and needs to be destroyed.

A gratuitous blast at 9gag, or the real deal? Set your search engines for JamesHolmes154, and get ready for the coming of the apocrypha.

Update: Here are photos of the shooter, James Holmes, 24:

Source: University of Colorado Denver
Source: Westview High School yearbook (San Diego, California)

Colorado Theater Shooter James E. Holmes posted on the social network site that he would “Shoot up a Theater and take as much life as possible” weeks before attack; posters respond with tips.

A few weeks ago, a man by the username of ‘JamesHolmes154′ posted a thread on 9gag saying he was going to ‘shoot up’ a theater. He was clearly distressed and admitted he was suffering from PTSD. He said he was going to walk in and try to take as much lifes as possible. The whole 9gag community egged him on and give him tips on what to wear, etc. They give him tips on sharp-shooting and sent him messages on how to take as much lifes as possible. 9gag is a sick site and needs to be destroyed.


From #Columbine to #Aurora: six ways we’re condemned to repeat ourselves

From Columbine to Aurora: six ways we’re condemned to repeat ourselves

With each new mass shooting outrage, a melancholy pattern of media hype, misreporting and political opportunism asserts itself

Columbine shooting surveillance tape

Eric Harris, left, and Dlyan Klebold, carrying a semi-automatic pistol, are pictured in the cafeteria at Columbine High School, in Littleton, Colorado, during the 20 April 1999 shooting rampage in which they killed a teacher and 12 students. Photograph: AP

The single most depressing thing about the shootings in Aurora is that we’ve seen all this before. Whether it’s Columbine, or Virginia Tech, or the attack on Congresswoman Gabby Giffords of Arizona, the progress of mass death in modern America has a tendency to follow the same basic script: an unhinged person gains easy access to firearms and the consequences are devastating.

By now, there’s a pattern – both to the events themselves, and to the way they are reported in the media – that illustrates, sadly, how little seems to be learned from one to the next. Here are some things to watch for as the story unfolds over the coming hours and days and weeks:

1. Almost everything reported in the immediate aftermath of the incident turns out to be distorted or wrong

After Columbine, everything we thought we knew in the first few days, from the number of shooters, to their motivation, to their affiliations at school, was based on overhasty information-gathering – some instances the fault of the media, and others the fault of the inexperienced local police.

The 24-hour news stations have an insatiable appetite on a story like this, and fact-checking goes out the window. Watch out for armchair psychologists, profilers and detectives who know nothing and can only speculate – often wildly.

2. Everyone wants to use incidents like these to promote their own agenda

It took the rightwing blogosphere crazies two minutes to blame the shootings on Middle Easterners, or see some dark political plot by President Obama to bolster his re-election campaign.

We can expect people to blame Hollywood, as they did after Columbine, and perhaps even the filmmakers of The Dark Knight Rises (whose villain, after all, wears a mask, just as James Holmes, the man named as the suspect shooter, appears to have done). Back in 1972, Stanley Kubrick himself withdrew A Clockwork Orange from distribution in Britain because of a string of copycat attacks. In the US, in 2012, expect the filmmakers to adopt a strictly defensive posture.

3. These incidents tend to occur to predominantly white, suburban communities previously thought of as all-American, safe and friendly

Columbine was a classic example of this. But so were the shootings in a school in West Paducah, Kentucky (1997), and at a Baptist church on the outskirts of Fort Worth, Texas (1999).

4. Because of saturation media coverage, one mass shooting tends to trigger another

The criminal profiler Park Dietz has studied this, and shown that one attack tends to spawn another (usually less serious) within two weeks. There are a lot of unstable people out there with guns, and the power of suggestion is considerable.

5. Whatever people say about guns, or gun control, in the wake of these horrific episodes, little or nothing ever changes

It will be interesting to see if Aurora is an exception to this rule. The controversy over “stand your ground” laws in many states, and the related shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida earlier this year, have generated the first serious conversation about gun control in years. The scandal over the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms’ “Fast and Furious” gun-monitoring operation on the Mexican border has had a similar effect.

In the past, though, mass shootings have led to token reform of gun laws, at best. And, in some instances, it has led to even laxer regulation – the thinking being that the more citizens are armed, the faster they can stop a killer by putting a bullet in his brain. However, after the Trayvon Martin case, which involved a Neighborhood Watch operation run amok, this argument may be harder to make.

6. Everyone talks about healing, but the healing can’t start until the media leaves town

Victims and their friends and families are inclined to talk to the media in the first flush of shock after the shootings, but they are barely in control of their emotions and the experience sometimes serves to traumatize them still further. Psychologists and veterans of school shootings say mourning has to occur in privacy, not on national television.

After a student killed two classmates and himself in Springfield, Oregon in 1998, the school principal banned the media from his campus, and never let them back in. It will be a while before the dead of Aurora can truly rest in peace.  

Glock semiautomatic pistol links recent #MassShootings

Glock semiautomatic pistol links recent mass shootings

By , Published: July 20

Virginia Tech. Gabby Giffords. Now Aurora, Colo.

The names and places are linked by tragedy, death and the Glock semiautomatic handgun.

The young men who carried out these mass shootings — and analysis says such killers are almost always male and most often young — all counted at least one of these versatile, easy-to-fire pistols in their arsenals.

In Aurora, James Holmes carried a .40-caliber Glock along with a shotgun and an assault rifle into the movie theater where he killed 12 people and wounded dozens more, according to federal and Colorado authorities. A second .40-caliber Glock was discovered in his car outside the theater.

Federal authorities said Holmes purchased all four weapons legally in May at two Colorado stores.

When Jared Lee Loughner opened fire in a Tucson suburb on Jan. 8, 2011, he killed six people and wounded 13 others, including Rep. Giffords (D), with a 9mm Glock 19. And Seung Hui Cho used a Glock 19 along with a .22-caliber semiautomatic pistol to kill 32 people and wound 17 at Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007, before killing himself.

“Certain guns have a reputation of being especially deadly,” James Alan Fox, a professor at Northeastern University and an expert in mass shootings, said in reference to the Glock semiautomatic. “They would be the weapons of choice. Contrary to popular belief that these are guys who go berserk, they tend to be well-planned executions. They plan what they are going to wear and what weapons to bring.”

Police said that Holmes was clad from head to toe in black body armor. Cho and Loughner also wore all black when they carried out their shootings.

Law enforcement sources said Holmes purchased his guns at two local branches of nationwide sporting goods chains — Gander Mountain and Bass Pro Shops.

Larry Whiteley, a spokesman for Bass Pro, said that Holmes bought one shotgun and one handgun legally from the company’s Denver outlet.

“Background checks, as required by federal law, were properly conducted, and he was approved,” Whiteley said.

A spokesman for Gander Mountain said it was “fully cooperating with this ongoing investigation.” A spokesman for Glock Inc., the Austrian company’s U.S. subsidiary, could not be reached.

Daniel Webster, co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, said Glocks are popular because they are reliable and relatively easy to use. He said that the .40-caliber Glock is one of the largest-caliber handguns available. “The bullets it fires are larger,” he said. “They put bigger holes in things.”

Like other mass shootings, Friday’s attack sparked calls for more gun control.

“In America today, where virtually anyone with a credit card and a grudge can outfit their own personal army, mass shootings are as predictable as they are tragic,” the Violence Policy Center said in a statement.

Andrew Arulanandam, spokesman for the National Rifle Association, said, “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and the community.” He declined to further comment on the Colorado shooting “until all the facts are known.”


Julie Tate contributed to this report.…