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US: Gunman kills 14 during 'Dark Knight' screening

Last updated on: July 20, 2012 19:47 IST

US: Gunman kills 14 during 'Dark Knight' screening

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A masked gunman on Friday turned the much-awaited premiere of the latest Batman flick in a United States cinema hall into a bloodbath, spraying the crowd with bullets, killing 14 people and leaving 50 others injured in the worst mass shooting in the country since 2007.

The gunman, clad in full body armour, forced his entry into the packed theatre in Aurora city of Denver in Colorado during a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises.

The intruder used smoke canisters to force his way in through the emergency exit and then used his automatic rifle to carry out the carnage.

Citing sources in the Federal Bureau of Investigation, American TV networks said the gunman has been identified as 24-year-old James Holmes from Aurora.

A shocked President Barack Obama called the shooting "horrific". A FBI spokesman said there was no indication so far of any connection to terrorism.

The gunman, who was wearing a gas mask and bullet-proof vest, rushed to the front of the theatre and fired into the crowd. He was later taken into custody from a car park lot behind the theatre.

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Image: The Century 16 Theatre where a masked gunman killed 14 people at a midnight showing of the new Batman movie in Aurora, Colorado
Photographs: Evan Semon/Reuters

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The shooter first threw some sort of disorienting smoke bomb and then sprayed the people with automatic gunfire, witnesses were quoted as saying by local 9 News.

The gunman, after being taken into custody, told the police that he had explosives in his apartment, which has now been evacuated.

FBI personnel have rushed to the shooting scene.

According to the police, 14 people were killed and 50 others injured in the shooting. Ten died on the spot while four succumbed to their injuries in a nearby hospital.

They received the call about the shooting around 1 am local time at the Century 16 Movie Theatre.

After that, police from all over the metro area were rushed to the shooting scene, as Americans woke up to the tragic news.

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Image: A police officer stands near the Century 16 Theatre
Photographs: Evan Semon/Reuters
Tags: FBI , News , Century

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Gunman kills 14 during 'Dark Knight' screening

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A witness, Benjamin Fernandez, 30, was quoted as saying by The Denver Post that he heard a series of explosions while he was watching the movie.

He said people ran from the theatre and there were gunshots as police shouted "'get down!"

CNN quoted one witness as saying that he saw, "A guy slowly making his way up the stairs and firing -- picking random people."

Police said the suspect appeared from nowhere and started shooting at those inside the theatre. The gunman, they said, was in possession of a gun and a rifle when he was arrested.

A third gun was found from the theatre.

The reason for the shooting -- the worst since the 2007 attack on a college campus in Virginia that left 33 people dead -- was not known immediately and the suspect was being interrogated, the local police said.

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Image: The Century 16 Theatre where a masked gunman killed 14 people
Photographs: Evan Semon/Reuters

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Gunman kills 14 during 'Dark Knight' screening

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Some media reports said that more than one person was involved in the incident, but Aurora police chief Dan Oates said that there was no evidence of a second suspect.

When the gunman was apprehended, he was at the back of the theatre near the parking lot close to his vehicle, which had a Tennessee license plate, police said.

They said he apparently used some kind of a tear gas inside the theatre before the shooting.

Another eye witness said they heard at least 10 shots within the theatre complex.

The Denver suburb of Aurora is near the scene of the 1999 Columbine High School shooting, in which 13 people were killed and 24 others injured.

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Image: Law enforcement officials gather outside the Century 16 Theatre
Photographs: Evan Semon/Reuters

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