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Police chief: Guns, ammo in Colorado theater shooting were legally bought

July 20, 2012|By Michael Muskal

All of the weapons and bullets used by a gunman in the Colorado theater shooting rampage were legally purchased, including more than 6,000 rounds of ammunition bought over the Internet, officials said Friday.

Obviously weary state and local officials briefed reporters in the early evening, nearly 19 hours after the gunman opened fire at a local showing of “The Dark Knight Rises,” the final chapter of the current Batman film trilogy.

Twelve people died in the incident and 58 were injured by gunfire or in the chaotic aftermath, said officials; the toll of those injured was revised downward by one from earlier in the day. Of the 30 who remained hospitalized, 11 were in critical condition, Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates told reporters during a televised news conference.

PHOTOS: 'Dark Knight Rises' shooting 

James Holmes, 24, the suspect in the shooting, remains in police custody, Oates said. Oates would not give any details on how the prisoner was being held. Holmes is scheduled to make his first court appearance Monday, the chief said.

“The most important thing is that there is justice for these victims -- and justice will take place in the courtroom,” he said.

Oates was able, however, to give new details on the armament used during the attack on Theater 9 of the Century 16 complex in Aurora. The attack began about 12:30 a.m. Friday, some 25 minutes into the movie, when the gunman ignited two canisters of gas then opened fire.

The suspect had legally purchased four weapons in the last 60 days from gun shops, including an assault rifle, a shotgun and two Glock handguns, Oates said. Holmes had also purchased more than 6,000 rounds of ammunition -- 3,000 for the assault rifle, 3,000 for the two handguns and 300 rounds for the shotgun.

“All weapons he possessed, he possessed legally. All clips he possessed, he possessed legally. All ammunition he possessed, he possessed legally,” Oates said.

Oates said Holmes had also purchased several magazines on the Internet for the assault rifle, including one 100-round drum magazine which was recovered from the scene. With the drum magazine, the gunman could have shot 50 to 60 rounds within one minute.

“As far as we know, it was a pretty rapid pace of fire in that theater,” Oates said.

Ten of the dead were killed in the theater, and two died in local hospitals, officials said. By Friday afternoon, authorities had removed the 10 bodies from the movie theater. Oates said officials would begin meeting with relatives of the deceased later in the evening.

The other major crime scene was Holmes’ apartment on Paris Street. Officials spent the day trying to figure out how to search the apartment after they discovered it had been booby-trapped with explosives, chemicals and trip wires.

“It’s a very vexing problem, how to enter that apartment safely,” Oates said “I personally have never seen anything like what the pictures show us.”

The police chief said authorities had suspended efforts at the apartment for the day and would resume work at the apartment on Saturday.

During the news conference, officials praised the police and hospital response to the shooting. Police began arriving within 90 seconds of the first telephone call at about 12:39 a.m.

“This is an act that defies description,” Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper said at the news conference. “There is much anger that can’t find a focus. The challenge for us as a community is to move past that.

"This was just senseless,” the fatigued governor added. “There just aren’t words. If I had more sleep I might have a better vocabulary.”


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