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Shock, sadness over US cinema shooting

Sat July 21, 2012 9:01pm

A COLORADO suburb shocked and saddened by a deadly shooting spree at a midnight unveiling of the latest Batman movie grieved for the victims while authorities sought a motive.

Authorities said that four weapons used in the killing spree at the packed theatre near Denver were purchased by the suspect from retail gun stores in Colorado in the past two months.

Police grimly went door to door late on Friday with a list of the victims killed in the worst mass shooting in the US in recent years, notifying families who had held out anxious hope that their loved ones had been spared.

Twelve people died and 58 were injured in the attack early on Friday, a few of those not by gunfire but in the chaos that ensued as the audience tried to flee the smoke-filled theatre, authorities said. Among the wounded, 11 were listed in critical condition.

The deceased victims included 23-year-old Micayla Medek, said Anita Busch, a cousin of Medek's father. The family took the news hard, but knowing her fate after waiting without word brought them some peace, Busch said.

Besides Medek, relatives confirmed that Alex Sullivan and Jessica Ghawi were among those killed, Sullivan on his 27th birthday.

Hours after the shootings, it remained unclear what drove the suspect, identified as 24-year-old James Holmes, to fire round after round at the unsuspecting audience watching The Dark Knight Rises.

Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said Holmes used a military-style semi-automatic rifle, a shotgun and a pistol that he had bought at local gun stores within the past two months. He also recently purchased 6000 rounds of ammunition over the internet, Oates said.

The suspect's stellar academic record, apparent shy demeanour and lack of a criminal background made the attack even more difficult to fathom.

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