Denver (Colorado): A masked gunman shot dead 14 people and wounded 40 to 50 others at a showing of new Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises at a movie theater in the US city of Denver.
A radio station said a figure in a gas mask had opened fire at the showing in a mall in the suburb of Aurora and set off a smoke or tear gas bomb.
At approximately 12:30 am this morning a gunman appeared at one of the theatres. Witnesses said he released some kind of canister, there was a hissing sound, some smoke was released and then the gunman opened fire, a spokesperson for the Aurora police told reporters.
The police found the gunman outside the theatre in a car wearing gas mask, with an assault rifle and handgun in his possession.
There was no evidence of any additional shooters, the police said.
The suspect had told police that he had explosives at his residence. The police has cordoned off his apartment and the parking lot of the theatre to verify his claims. The motive of the gunman is still not known.
Ten persons died at the shooting in the theatre while four others died while being taken for medical treatment, police officials said.
The theatre was reportedly holding a midnight screening of the film when the shooting took place.
Police personnel surrounded the Century 16 Movie Theaters at the Aurora Town Center in Denver with SWAT personnel also being rushed to the scene of the shooting, NBC reported.
An eyewitness, who was in the theatre complex, said he was watching the film when he started hearing sounds of shooting and it wasn’t until he saw people leaving the film hall that he realised it was an attack.
“Witnesses tell us he released some sort of canister. They heard a hissing sound and some gas emerged and the gunman opened fire,” Oates said at a news conference.
One suspect is in custody and there’s no evidence of any additional shooters, Oates said.
There was no immediate word of any motive.
Witness Hayden Miller told KUSA-TV that he was inside Theater 16 and heard several shots.
“Like little explosions going on and shortly after that we heard people screaming,” he told the station.
Hayden said at first he thought it was part of a louder movie next door. But then he saw “people hunched over leaving theater.”
Two people in critical condition were rushed to the nearby Swedish Medical Center, spokeswoman Nicole Williams said.
She said emergency crews told her staff to prepare for several more patients from the shooting scene.
“We’re on standby to receive,” she said.
Aurora is located on the southeast outskirts of Denver, about 10 miles from downtown.