Police focus attention on shooting suspect’s booby-trapped home
AURORA, COLORADO A DAY after a gunman opened fire at a packed midnight showing of the new Batman film in a Denver suburb, killing 12 people and wounding 59 more, police on Saturday prepared to neutralise explosives in the suspect’s booby-trapped apartment.
Dozens of law enforcement officials arrived at the apartment of suspect James Holmes at dawn, but it was not immediately clear if they planned to detonate the suspected explosives using a robot. Police have evacuated five nearby buildings and created a perimeter of several blocks.
Meanwhile, a memorial of flowers and candles has been set up at the Aurora shopping mall where the shooting rampage at a showing of The Dark Knight Rises turned a movie screening into a chaotic scene of dead or bleeding victims. A handwritten sign read: “7/20 gone not forgotten.” The gunman — armed with an assault rifle, a shotgun and a pistol, and wearing a full suit of tactical body armour, a helmet and a gas mask — set off two smoke bombs before opening fire in the dark theatre.
Police said 30 people remained hospitalised on Saturday, 11 of them in critical condition.
Officers who arrived on scene within 90 seconds of the first emergency calls quickly took Holmes, 24, into custody in a parking lot behind the cinema, where he surrendered without a fight, Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said.
Police declined to say what, if anything, Holmes said to them following his arrest. During an emotional press conference, Oates would not comment on possible motives for the massacre that stunned the community and the nation.
President Barack Obama called the shootings a reminder that life is fragile and promised that the federal government stood ready to do all it could to seek justice for the “heinous crime.” “Even as we come to learn how this happened and who’s responsible, we may never understand what leads anyone to terrorise their fellow human beings,” Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address, which was broadcast on Saturday.
Witnesses at the movie theatre told of a horrific scene, with dazed victims bleeding from bullet wounds, spitting up blood and crying for help. Among those taken to hospitals as a precaution was a baby boy just a few months old.