On Friday, during an early morning screening of the new Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises,” a heavily armed gunman walked into an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater, threw canisters of tear gas down the aisles and opened fire on the terrified audience.
The suspected gunman, now identified as 24-year-old James Holmes, killed 12 people and wounded 59 more in the mass shooting.
In a briefing Friday afternoon, Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said Holmes was carrying several guns, including a rifle similar to an AR-15, a Remington shotgun, and a .40-caliber Glock. Another handgun was found inside Holmes’ car, which was parked at the back of the theater.
Oates said that Holmes was wearing body armor and confirmed his use of two devices that let out an “irritant or smoke” before the shooting started.
Holmes was arrested in the back of the theater and “surrendered without any significant incident for our officers,” Oates said.
“We are not looking for any other suspects,” he said. “We are confident that he acted alone.”
Oates refused to speculate on a motive, but noted that aside for a speeding ticket, Holmes had no prior criminal record. As for the legality of the weapons and how Holmes obtained them, he did not have the answers yet.
“I know we are working up the investigation of those weapons but I don’t know what their legal status is,” he said.
UPDATE: Guns were legally purchased by Holmes.
Holmes was studying neuroscience in a Ph.D. program at the University of Colorado-Denver, university spokeswoman Jacque Montgomery told the Associated Press. Holmes enrolled a year ago and was in the process of withdrawing at the time of the shootings, Montgomery said.
The tragedy has already sparked a national debate about gun control.
During his weekly appearance on WORS radio, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg called on President Barack Obama and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney to address the issue of gun control in the wake of the massacre.
“You know, soothing words are nice, but maybe it’s time that the two people who want to be President of the United States stand up and tell us what they are going to do about it, because this is obviously a problem across the country,” Bloomberg said.
As for potential solutions, Bloomberg scoffed at the idea that responsible citizens should have the right to self-defense.
“You know, ‘I need more guns to protect myself.’ And that strategy doesn’t work. That’s like saying incarcerate more people and you’ll reduce crime rate. In New York City, we’ve reduced the incarceration- the number of people incarcerated by over a third and crime keeps coming down. Because when you send somebody to jail – particularly a kid – all they do is learn how to be a worse criminal. So that’s just not a good solution. You may be able to say, ‘I’ll put her in jail and throw away the key.’ That sounds good, but it doesn’t solve the problem.”