Denver Batman massacre: masked gunman shoots dead 12
Masked man lets off gas canister and shoots into audience at screening of Dark Knight Rises in Colorado cinema
A MASKED gunman has shot dead at least 12 people and wounded up to 50 others at a screening of the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises, at a cinema in Denver, Colorado.
The shooter reportedly detonated a smoke or tear gas canister before opening fire into the audience at a midnight showing of the film at the Century Aurora 16 Movie Theatre in a shopping mall in the US city, according to local radio station 850 KOA Radio.
A man carrying a rifle and a handgun was arrested in a nearby car park and is in custody. One police spokesman told CNN he didn't resist arrest or put up a fight. The suspect, named as 24-year-old James Holmes, told police that there were explosives stored at his house, which led to the area being evacuated.
Police confirmed there was "no evidence" of a second gunman, while the FBI said no terrorism link had been found in early investigations, according to ABC.
Brenda Stuart, of KOA Radio, said: "The shooting started during the midnight showing at the theatre. Many people thought it was part of the movie before panic set in.
"Police are taking people to hospital in their own cars, not waiting for ambulances to arrive. There were chaotic scenes as people desperately tried to flee."
Local reporter Justin Joseph told media that witnesses had said a man wearing body armour and a gas mask stood up and faced the audience when Batman appeared on screen. He then threw two gas canister into the stalls.
"As people ran this gunman, or gunmen, opened fire hitting people," he said. "Police sources have told us there are 10 bodies inside the cinema, most of them children or teenagers, and one baby.
"A baby was shot at point blank range, the family were gathered around screaming. There were police on scene when it happened and one of the gunmen was captured quickly."
One witness told CNN about "a guy slowly making his way up the stairs and firing - picking random people".
Another told the BBC of her escape from the cinema: "He fired a canister into the air - it could have been a smoke bomb or tear gas. It shot it right into the air, then I started to hear the bang, bang, bang of a gun."
"I crawled my way through the row, luckily the exit was close to where I was sitting so I got out pretty fast. I heard more shots as I left."
President Obama said he and the first lady were "shocked and saddened" by the incident and urged the country to "come together as one American family".