AURORA, Colo. — The first big gun battle in “The Dark Knight Rises” was underway and Batman fan Eric Hunter heard three pops and saw thick black smoke coming into the theater. Startled, he jumped up but then sat back down, assuming it was a publicity stunt for the movie.
Hunter was in Theater 8 at the Century 16 multiplex. Next door in Theater 9, a gunman had just opened fire on the audience. As Hunter recalled the scene Friday morning, he then heard about eight more pops. This was no stunt.
“I jumped up, probably not the smartest thing to do, and started down the stairs,” Hunter said.
He opened an exit door. Whether it connected directly to Theater 9 or to some adjoining room isn’t clear, but Hunter saw two teenage girls, one wounded in the face. Hunter, a radiology technician, said he saw what appeared to be entrance and exit wounds.
“Please help me!” a girl pleaded. “Please help me. God, he’s coming back.”
Hunter said he pulled the girls into Theater 8 and grabbed the door, but before he could shut it he found himself locking eyes with the shooter. The man was in black, wore what looked like a gas mask and held a gun in each hand. Hunter slammed the door.