The 2012 Aurora, Colorado shooting
The 2012 Aurora, Colorado shooting is one of the deadliest movie theater incidents ever. It happened on July 20, 2012 in Aurora, Colorado during the midnight screening of the film The Dark Knight Rises. Dressed in tactical clothing, James Eagan Holmes set off tear gas grenades and shot into the audience with multiple firearms. Twelve people were killed and seventy others were injured, 58 of them from gunfire.
The shooting occurred in Theater 9 at the Century 16 multiplex (operated by Cinemark), located in the Town Center at Aurora shopping mall at 14300 E. Alameda Avenue. Police said that Holmes bought a ticket, entered the theater, and sat in the front row. About 20 minutes into the film, he left theater 9 through an emergency exit door beside the movie screen, with direct access to the lightly used parking area at the back of the complex, while propping the door slightly open with a plastic tablecloth holder. There were about 400 people inside theater 9, and He went to his car (which was parked near the exit door), changed into some protective clothing, and retrieved his guns.
About 30 minutes into the movie, he reentered the theater through the exit door. Holmes was dressed in black and wore a gas mask, a load-bearing vest a ballistic helmet, bullet-resistant leggings, a bullet-resistant throat protector, a groin protector, and tactical gloves. He was also listening to techno music through a set of headphones so that the reactions in the theater could not be heard. Initially, few in the audience considered Holmes to be a threat. According to witnesses, he appeared to be wearing a costume, like other audience members who had dressed up for the screening. Some of the audience believed he was playing a prank, while others thought he was part of a special effects installation setup for the film's premiere or a publicity stunt by the studio or theater management.
He threw two canisters emitting gas or smoke, partially obscuring the audience members' vision, making their throats and skin itch, and causing eye irritation. He then fired a 12-gauge Remington 870 Express Tactical shotgun, first at the ceiling and then at the audience. He also fired a Smith & Wesson M&P15 semi-automatic rifle with a 100-round drum magazine, which eventually malfunctioned. He fired a .40-caliber Glock 22 Gen4 handgun. He shot first to the back of the room, and then toward people in the aisles. A bullet passed through the wall and hit three people in the adjacent theater 8, which was screening the same film. Witnesses said the multiplex's fire alarm system began sounding soon after the attack began and staff told people in Theater 8 to evacuate. One witness said she was hesitant to leave because someone yelled that someone was shooting in the lobby, and Hobby fired 76 shots in the theater: six from the shotgun, 65 from the semi-automatic rifle, and five from the .40-caliber handgun.
The first phone calls to emergency services via 9-1-1 were made at 12:39 a.m. Police arrived within 90 seconds and found three .40-caliber handgun magazines, a shotgun, and a large drum magazine on the floor of the theater. About 12:45 a.m., police officer Jason Oviatt apprehended Holmes behind the cinema, next to his car, without resistance. He was initially mistaken for another police officer because of the tactical clothing that he was wearing. He was described as being calm and "disconnected" during his arrest.
Eighty-two casualties were reported. Seventy were hit by bullets, reported by mainstream news as the most victims of any mass shooting in United States history. This figure would not be surpassed until the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting, which killed 49 people and injured 58 others for a combined total of 107 casualties.
This page is dedicated to 82 lives of the audience who died in the shooting.