Colorado Endures The Worst Mass Shooting Since Columbine As Young Batman Fans Are Shot In Theatre

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UPDATE: The now reportedly 4- month-old baby has been released from the hospital.

Who knows how long it takes for states to heal from tragic mass shootings. But if Colorado has just begun successfully shaking off the memory the 1999 Columbine High School shooting, they unfortunately have a new tragedy — culturally sealed to the release of the new Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises.  Moviegoers who secured that coveted early showing at 12:30 am watched their theatre fill up with reportedly “thick smoke and gunfire” only to learn that these were not special effects of their film.

CNN reports that 24-year-old James Holmes threw tear gas into a theatre in Aurora, Colorado before opening fire on the entire audience. The death toll is as of this writing 12 people with a reported “dozens more” injured, including many young Batman fans such as a 9-year-old girl who was shot in the back and a 3-month-old baby in stable condition. A 7-year-old is reportedly still missing. [tagbox tag=”colorado shooting”]

Holmes did not resist police upon his arrest in the theatre parking lot and there is no clear motive at this time. CBS news describes this devastating shooting as “the worst mass shooting in Colorado since the Columbine High School massacre on April 20, 1999,” which occurred only 15 miles west of Aurora.

Patrons seemed almost certain that the scene was orchestrated to accompany the release of the film:

Paul Otermat, who told Sky News he was in the theater when the incident occurred, said he “thought it was a publicity stunt,” when he saw a man in a long coat walk in and hurl what he believed was a tear gas canister at the crowd.

Among the details of The Dark Knight Rises fans bolting from the theatre are reports of many children in the audience, some of which were wearing costumes to accompany the midnight showing. The most startling eye witness accounts are those that describe the injuries of children:

Benjamin Fernandez, who was also in an adjacent theater, said he saw a young girl, around 12 or 13 years old, laying on the concrete when he exited the building.

“From what I saw, she had two bullet wounds in her leg and just blood all over her stomach. Her friends were all just yelling, crying. … We were just all pretty much in shock,” he said on “CBS This Morning.”

Twitter is apparently a flood with first-person accounts of the shooting and some YouTube videos have surfaced, neither of which many a parent should be expected to stomach.

(photo: hxdbzxy/ Shutterstock)