President Barack Obama has released a statement about the fatal shootings at a screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Denver, Colorado earlier today (July 19).
At least 12 people were killed in the tragic incident, which took place at the Century 16 cinema complex in the suburb of Aurora shortly after midnight. According to witnesses, a masked gunman appeared at the screening wearing a gas mask and set off an explosive device before opening fire on the audience.
Pledging Presidential support to the local community, Obama said: “Michelle and I are shocked and saddened by the horrific and tragic shooting in Colorado. Federal and local law enforcement are still responding, and my Administration will do everything that we can to support the people of Aurora in this extraordinarily difficult time. We are committed to bringing whoever was responsible to justice, ensuring the safety of our people, and caring for those who have been wounded.”
The President also urged the American people to extend as much empathy as possible to those affected by the tragedies, saying: “As we do when confronted by moments of darkness and challenge, we must now come together as one American family. All of us must have the people of Aurora in our thoughts and prayers as they confront the loss of family, friends, and neighbours, and we must stand together with them in the challenging hours and days to come.”
Local police chief Dan Oates has given an account of the attack, which is believed to have injured another 50 cinema-goers. 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.” Oates also confirmed 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. Earlier reports had suggested that there was a second gunman, but police say there is “no evidence” of this.