Some of the moviegoers at the Thursday night showing of "The Dark Knight Rises," in Aurora, Colorado, thought the tear gas and gunfire was part of the show. But once reality set in, they realized they were under attack by what is presumed to have been a lone gunman.
The gunman was wearing a mask when he set off an unknown gas and fired into the crowded theater located in a Denver suburb, killing 12 people and injuring at least 56 others, including a three-month-old infant, according to a report by the Huffington Post.
"Praying for everyone hurt and affected by the theater shooting in Aurora," Olympic swimmer Missy Franklin wrote on her Twitter page (@FranklinMissy) from the Olympic team's training camp in Vichy, France. "I'm in total disbelief and shock. Things happen so quickly. #pray"
Franklin is a swimmer on the Colorado Stars team based in Aurora.
"I'm so sorry to hear of the tragedy in Colorado," Olympian Ryan Lochte wrote. My prayers are with the families & friends of the victims."
This morning, the Huffington Post reports that the gunman was identfied by federal law enforcement officials as James Holmes, a 24-year-old American.
Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said Holmes, born Dec. 13, 1987, was dressed in black and wore a helmet, gas mask, and protective clothing covering his head, legs and throat.
Holmes is in police custody and the FBI says there is no indication that the incident is tied to any terrorist groups.
The University of Colorado medical school said Holmes enrolled in their graduate neuroscience program in June 2011 and had lately been in the process of withdrawing.
Holmes' family in San Diego said their "hearts go out" to those involved in the tragedy.
Oates said the suspect's apartment was booby-trapped with explosives linked by wires that appeared "very sophisticated," and police could be on the scene for hours or days.
In the wake of the tragedy, law enforcement officials nationwide are taking precautions against similar attacks.
As reported Friday morning in, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly issued the following statement Friday morning:
"As a precaution against copycats and to raise the comfort levels among movie patrons in the wake of the horrendous shooting in Colorado, the New York City Police Department is providing coverage at theaters where the 'The Dark Knight Rises' is playing in the five boroughs."
And even in San Mateo, a former Hillsdale High School student just three years ago brought a chainsaw, 10 pipe bombs and a knife to campus in an attempt to kill his teachers. Alexander Youshock was last year of attempted murder for the Aug. 24, 2009, incident, in which teachers tackled him, preventing anyone from being injured.
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