News guide to mass shooting at Colorado theater

Here’s a guide to some key questions in the wake of the mass shooting at a Colorado movie theater during a showing of “The Dark Knight Rises.”

Q: WHAT HAPPENED?

A: Shortly after midnight Friday, a gunman wearing a gas mask and black SWAT gear set off a gas canister and then opened fire inside a crowded theater in the Denver suburb of Aurora, Colo., killing 12 people and wounding nearly 60 others, authorities said. The suspect was arrested near a car behind the theater and identified as 24-year-old James Holmes. Authorities did not release a motive. The FBI said there was no indication of ties to any terrorist groups.

___

Q: WHO IS THE SUSPECT?

A: Holmes was studying neuroscience in a Ph.D. program at the University of Colorado-Denver but was about to drop out. He enrolled in June 2011 but left a year later, though it wasn’t immediately clear why.

He played soccer at Westview High School in the San Diego area and graduated with honors from the University of California, Riverside, in spring 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience.

Those who knew Holmes described him as a shy, intelligent man who grew up in San Diego with parents who were active in their well-to-do suburban neighborhood.

Police in San Diego read a statement from family members in which they said their hearts go out to those involved. The family said they’re cooperating with authorities in San Diego and Aurora, and are trying to process everything.

___

Q: WHAT IS GOING ON AT HOLMES’ APARTMENT?

A: Police said the third-floor apartment was booby trapped, so they’ve evacuated five surrounding buildings and bomb technicians were determining how to disarm flammable or explosive material.

“It’s a pretty extensive booby trap. We’re not sure what it’s attached to. There are trip wires. There are three containers and we don’t know what it’s inside,” said Chris Henderson, deputy Aurora fire chief.

The apartment is about four miles from the theater.

___

Q: ARE MOVIE THEATERS STILL SHOWING THE FILM?

A: Yes, though theaters and police increased security and AMC Theaters, the nation’s second-largest chain, barred customers from wearing masks or costumes. Some fans were nervous about going to see the film, but many were undeterred.

At theaters from New York to Texas, police increased their presence as a response to the shootings. At the Regal Gallery Place multiplex in downtown Washington, theater employees searched patrons’ bags and purses while taking their tickets.

___

Q: WHO WAS HURT IN THE THEATER?

A: Many victims treated at hospitals were under 40, including a 4-month-old baby and 6-year-old. The oldest reported patient was 45.

Victims were treated for chemical exposure, apparently related to canisters thrown by the gunman, and gunshot and shrapnel wounds. Eleven remain in critical condition.

The Defense Department said two sailors and an airman were wounded and one sailor was unaccounted for in the shooting.

___

Q: WAS THERE ANY LINK BETWEEN THE SHOOTING AND THE MOVIE?

A: It’s unclear. New York City’s police commissioner said he was told the gunman had painted his hair red and called himself the Joker — Batman’s nemesis — but Aurora police would not confirm that.

In “The Dark Knight Rises,” a masked villain leads a murderous crew into a packed football stadium and wages an attack involving guns and explosives. But violent attacks on the public by villains are key components of most superhero movies.

There are general parallels to the shooting, “The Dark Knight” and the comic book character. Bruce Wayne’s drive to become Batman arose from witnessing the deaths of his parents at the hands of small-time criminal who shot and killed them after they had left a movie theater. The Batman video game called “Arkham City” takes place in an abandoned movie theatre.

___

Q: HOW MANY GUNS DID THE SUSPECT HAVE?

A: Officers found an AR-15 assault rifle — the civilian form of the M-16 — a Remington 12-gauge shotgun and a .40-caliber Glock handgun in the theater and another identical handgun in the car. The gunman also set off two devices that released a smoke or an irritant, Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said.

___

Q: WHEN WAS THE LAST MASS SHOOTING IN THE U.S.?

A: The massacre in Aurora was one of the deadliest in the U.S., and the worst mass shooting in the U.S. since the Nov. 5, 2009, attack at Fort Hood, Texas, when an Army psychiatrist killed 13 soldiers and civilians and more than two dozen others wounded.

In Colorado, it was the deadliest shooting since the Columbine High School massacre on April 20, 1999, when two students opened fire at the school in the Denver suburb of Littleton, killing 12 classmates and a teacher and wounding 26 others before killing themselves.

Mower County

Honor those who served this Memorial Day

Education

‘Light the world on fire:’ Pacelli graduates the Class of 2024

Education

Signing ceremony a first step for students hoping to get into education

Education

Hook, line, and sinker – Lyle students made the best catch

Mower County

Austin Stormwater Resilience Plan – Open House slated for Tuesday

Mower County

Mueller awarded fellowship to attend leadership institute

Mower County

Nominations to open June 1 for APS Distinguished Alumni

Mower County

Great River Energy donates fire test hose station to Dexter Fire Department

Mower County

In Your Community: Austin Masons donated to area fire departments

Brownsdale

In Your Community: Brownsdale Study Club

Mower County

In Your Community: Duplicate Bridge

Education

Education Briefs:

News

National Guard joins search for 2 missing canoeists in BWCA

Crime, Courts & Emergencies

Convictions: May 13-20

Crime, Courts & Emergencies

Austin man charged with possessing child pornography

News

As Walz signs $30 million for rural EMS, providers worry it’s not enough

Education

SMEC graduates tell their own tales of success

Business

Company that owns Austin radio stations lays off on-air personalities, part of sweeping move

Mower County

Institute dedicated to moving forward despite missing out on bonding dollars

Mower County

Institute Community Outreach and Education manager receives grant to expand STEM education offerings

News

Tornado devastates Iowa town, killing multiple people as powerful storms rip through Midwest

Mower County

Unmarked grave of Civil War veteran who fought at Shiloh, among other battles, gets memorial plaque

Mower County

Tuesday storm knocks out power to many, downs trees and branches

Business

Going hog wild for ice cream