EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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July 20, 2012

UPDATED: Police: 14 dead in Colorado theater shooting

AURORA, Colo. (AP) — A gunman opened fire early today at a suburban Denver movie theater on the opening night of the latest Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises," killing 14 people and injuring at least 50 others, authorities said.

The gunman, who is in custody, stood at the front of the theater and fired into the crowd about 12:30 a.m. MDT at a multiplex theater in a mall in Aurora.

"Witnesses tell us he released some sort of canister. They heard a hissing sound and some gas emerged and the gunman opened fire," Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said at a news conference.

Police, ambulances and emergency crews swarmed on the scene after frantic calls started flooding the 911 switchboard, officials said.

Officers came running in and telling people to leave the theater, Salina Jordan told the Denver Post. She said some police were carrying and dragging bodies.

Officers later found the gunman near a car behind the theater.

"A gas mask, rifle, handgun at least one additional weapon (were) found inside," he said.

The suspect was taken into custody, but no name was released. Oates said there's no evidence of any other attackers. There was also no immediate word of any motive.

The suspect spoke of "possible explosives in his residence. We are dealing with that potential threat," Oates said

Police were at the Denver-area apartment and had evacuated other residents of the building. Oates did not say whether any explosives had been found.

He said police also checked for explosives in the parking lot and at the Century 16 theater and secured those areas.

Moviegoers spoke of their terror as violence erupted and people around them fell victim.

Bejamin Fernandez, 30, told the Post that he heard a series of explosions. He said that people ran from the theater and there were gunshots as police shouted "get down!"

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