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'Joker' opens fire on cinema crowd

'Joker' opens fire on cinema crowd

Sat July 21, 2012 7:07am

AN EMOTIONAL candlelight vigil has been held for the victims of the massacre at a premiere of the latest Batman movie, which left 12 people dead and nearly 60 injured.

The town of Aurora, Colorado stood in silent mourning as it emerged that the alleged gunman, named as medical school dropout James Holmes, 24, bought more than 6000 rounds of ammunition on the internet, and four guns, in the two months before the shootings.

"As far as we know, it was a pretty rapid pace of fire in that theatre,'' said Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates, his voice shaking at times with emotion.

The masked, black-clad shooter burst into a movie theatre barely 20 minutes into the midnight screening of the Batman film, throwing two tear-gas type devices before opening fire.

When the smoke began to spread, some moviegoers thought it was a stunt that was part of The Dark Knight Rises, one of the most highly anticipated films of the summer. Then they saw a silhouette of a person in smoke at the front of the theatre, pointing a gun at the crowd.

Some cinemagoers said the gunman threw the tear gas canisters just as the same thing was happening on-screen.

Many were confused and not even aware the attack was taking place as his shots mingled with the movie's soundtrack while he gunned down terrified patrons scrambling for the exits.

Witnesses said the gunman fired indiscriminately, targeting men, women and children - even a four-month-old baby.

A local children's hospital reported six young victims, the youngest of whom was aged only six.

The number of victims makes the incident the largest mass shooting in US history, America's ABC news reported.

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