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PHOTO: The gunman began shooting soon after the beginning of a midnight screening of the new Batman movie.(TwitPic: Eddie Castro)

A masked gunman has shot dead at least 14 people and wounded up to 50 others at a premiere showing of the new Batman movie in Colorado.

A man wearing body armour and a gas mask began shooting during the screening at a mall in the Denver suburb of Aurora.

One person has been taken into custody as police sweep the theatre and determine whether a second person was involved.

Here are the latest developments:

8:03pm: Authorities are sweeping other movie complexes in the region for explosives and to ensure there are no other threats.

7:50pm: Witnesses say the movie theatre had a bad reputation and there was regular security at the venue.

One woman said her friend would not watch the premiere at the cinema because of safety concerns.

Another witness said it would be difficult for security guards to pick an offender out of the crowd because everybody dressed in costume for the Batman premiere.


7:40pm: Children are reportedly among those shot.

One person at the theatre who spoke to local television station 9News described what he heard a fellow witness tell her boyfriend:

“The really messed up part for me is that she said she saw bullet holes in the little girl’s back.”

7:22pm: Aurora police chief Dan Oates briefs the media.

He says 14 people had been killed – 10 people died in the theatre while the others died in hospital.

At least 50 others were wounded.

“At approximately 12.30am police officers responded and found the gunman in the back of the theatre outside of the parking lot near the car in possession of a gas mask and a handgun – one additional weapon was found inside.

“We have no evidence of a second gunman but obviously we are concerned about that.

“Police found the gunman out the back of the cinemas in possession of a gas mask and a rifle and a hand gun.

“There was another weapon in the theatre.”

Chief Oates said the shooting began after the gunman set off what could have been a tear gas canister.

“There was a release of some sort of smoke and that is all we know now.”

The man in custody made statements about being in possession of explosives.

“The suspect who is in custody made a reference to explosives at his residence, so police have evacuated a building in North Aurora.

“It’s an apartment building, that we have evacuated and we are dealing with the potential that there are explosives inside there.

“We are also concerned about explosives in the parking lot, and the parking lot is completely sealed off.

“We have all the area bomb squads close at hand and we are just as a precaution checking all the bars and the parking lots for explosives.”

“The threatre is secure, and I imagine the forensic work and the handling of the people inside will go on for some time.”

7:20pm: Aurora is a suburb of Denver near the scene of the 1999 Columbine High School shooting, in which 13 people were shot dead and another 24 were wounded.

7:15pm: The cinema complex has 16 individual theatres, three of which were showing the The Dark Knight Rises at the time.

7:09pm: Moviegoer Hayden Miller says the assailant was wearing a gas mask and throwing tear gas.

He says the gunman did not want to let anybody out.

“We heard 10 to 20 shots… and then management came on the PA system and put the fire alarm on and said everyone had to get out.

“As soon as we heard the shots go off, we figured it must have been a louder part of the movie next to us.

“It was chaotic – it was something like you would see in a movie. It was surreal – nobody could believe it.

“People are saying this is a terrorist attack – I am not sure. But it sure looks like it. I am in shock.

“It is insane that this can happen at a movie theatre … and somebody had to do something as horrible as this.”


7:04pm: Police confirm that one person taken into custody. Investigations continue to determine whether a second person was involved.

7:02pm: The theatre in the Denver suburb of Aurora was packed with people who had come to watch midnight screenings of the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises.

7:01pm: Media reporting that the death toll is at least 10 while another 39 people have been taken to local hospitals.

6:58pm: A witness from an adjoining cinema says he knew something was wrong when people started moaning after material began flying off the wall in his own cinema.

But he said to begin with he thought the cinema had gone all out on special effects for the opening of the movie.

“We were watching a scene in the movie – it was a shootout scene,” he said.

“We thought it was special effects. It was a midnight showing … who does that anymore?

“People stood up and started checking themselves. A couple people were walking away checking themself. A couple people were moaning.

“It wasn’t until someone came into the theatre and tell us not to go outside because there was a man outside with a gun.”

6:53pm: Local television station 9News says there is no word from police as to the whereabouts of the gunman or whether anyone has been taken into custody.

6:46pm: NBC reporting that one suspect was in custody and a bomb squad had been sent to the theatre.

6:30pm: Local television footage shows a long line of ambulances waiting outside the movie theatre.

6:26pm: Various reports are putting the number of injured between 20 and 40 people.

6:20pm: Witnesses report gunman opened fire about 15 minutes into the movie. People in adjoining theatres say they heard gunfire but were unsure whether the noise was part of the film until bullets entered their theatre.

6:14pm: Local radio station reporting that 10 people shot dead.

6:10pm: Reports emerge of shooting at Denver movie theatre.

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