Police to Enter Colorado Suspect's Booby-Trapped Home
Wearing a gas mask, the attacker barged into the crowded theater, hurled a gas canister and then opened fire.
When the gas began to spread, some moviegoers said, they thought it was a stunt that was part of the movie. They then saw a silhouette of a person in the smoke near the screen, first pointing a gun at the crowd and shooting.
The film has several scenes of public mayhem. In one scene, the main villain Bane leads an attack on the stock exchange and, in another, leads a shooting and bombing rampage on a packed football stadium.
It was the final installment of the "Dark Knight" trilogy directed by Nolan and starring Bale as Batman. For the first one, "The Dark Knight," Heath Ledger was awarded a posthumous Oscar for his searing portrayal of The Joker.
Jennifer Seeger, 25, said she was in the second row, about 4 feet from the gunman. She said he pointed a gun at her face and felt like "just a deer in headlights," but she ducked.
"There were bullet (casings) just falling on my head. They were burning my forehead," she said, adding that the gunman, dressed like a SWAT team member, fired steadily except when he stopped to reload.
"Every few seconds it was just: boom, boom, boom."
"Every few seconds it was just: boom, boom, boom," she said. "He would reload and shoot and anyone who would try to leave would just get killed."
She said she began crawling toward an exit when she saw a girl about 14 years old "lying lifeless on the stairs."
"It was mass chaos," Seeger told NBC's "TODAY." The gunman shot the ceiling and then "he threw in the gas can, and then I knew it was real."
"Everyone's going for the door and then everyone starts saying, 'No, he's going to shoot people going for the door, and he did," she told NBC. "They're trying to escape, and he shot those people as well."
Police, ambulances and emergency crews swarmed the scene after frantic calls started flooding the 911 switchboard, officials said.
Officers came running in and telling people to leave the theater, Salina Jordan told The Denver Post. She said some police were carrying and dragging bodies.
"When we got out of the theater it was just chaos. There was this one guy who was on all fours crawling. There was this girl spitting up blood," Donovan Tate told KCNC television. "There were bullet holes in some people's backs, some people's arms. There was this one guy who was stripped down to just his boxers. It looked like he was shot in the back or something. It was crazy."
Officers later found the gunman near a car behind the theater and he was taken into custody.
The weapons were bought from two local stores of two national chains, Gander Mountain Guns and Bass Pro Shop, beginning in May, law enforcement officials told NBC News.
The suspect spoke of "possible explosives in his residence. We are dealing with that potential threat," Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said.
Police at the suspect's North Aurora apartment evacuated other residents of the building. Oates said the apartment was booby-trapped. "We are trying to determine how to disarm the flammable or explosive material," he said. "It could be a very long wait."
Oates said police also checked for explosives at the massacre scene and secured those areas.
Another survivor, Benjamin Fernandez, 30, told the Post he heard a series of explosions. He said that people ran from the theater and there were gunshots as police shouted "get down!"
Fernandez said he saw people falling, including one young girl.
Hayden Miller told KUSA-TV he heard several shots. "Like little explosions going on and shortly after that we heard people screaming," he said.
Miller said at first he thought it was part of a louder movie next door. But then he saw "people hunched over leaving theater."
Salina Jordan, 19, told the Post she was in Theater 8 and saw people hit in her theater. She said one girl was struck in cheek, others in stomach including a girl who looked to be around 9 years old, according to the Post.
Most of the wounded and killed were at Theater 9 of the multiplex, the Post said.