At least 12 people have been killed in a shooting at a screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Denver, Colorado, according to reports.
Police say another 50 people were injured in the shooting, which took place at a midnight showing of the Batman sequel at the Century 16 cinema complex in the suburb of Aurora. According to witnesses, a man appeared at the screening wearing a gas mask and set off an explosive device before opening fire on the audience.
Local radio presenter Brenda Stuart told the BBC that cinema-goers “thought it was part of the movie at first, then maybe it was a prank. Then all of a sudden people started hitting the ground, running out of the theatre”.
Paul Otermat, who was at the screening when the shooting occurred, recalled his version of events with Sky News. He said: “A man walked through the emergency exit. I thought it was some sort of publicity stunt for a second there and then he threw tear gas into the crowd. He started firing shots into the crowd. We ducked down, me and my girlfriend, and dragged ourselves out of the theatre. We ran through the lobby and we heard more shots and ran into the parking lot and got into our car and drove off.”
Police chief Dan Oates has now given an account of the attack. He said: “Approximately at 12.30 this morning a gunman appeared at the front of one of the theatres in the Century 16 theatre. Witnesses tell us that he released some sort of canister. They heard a hissing sound and a gas emerged and then we know that the gunman opened fire.” Police chief Oates proceeded to confirm that the shooting had gone on “for some time”.
A man in possession of a rifle and a handgun was arrested at a nearby car park and taken into custody. Frank Fania of the Aurora police department has confirmed that the suspect is a “younger adult male” in his early twenties. Early reports suggested that there may have been a second gunman, but police say that there is “no evidence” of this.