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Century 16 in Aurora Shooting

The Century 16 Theater in Aurora, Colorado, location of the shootings
Photo Credit: Algr / David Levy

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Movie Theater Shootings in Colorado Shocks the Nation

by Jennie Wood

On July 20, 2012, during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises, a gunman opened fire on a crowded theater in Aurora, Colorado. Twelve people were killed and 58 others were wounded. More people were killed and wounded than in any other shooting in U.S. history.

Shortly after midnight, James Holmes set off a smoke device in the front of the theater and opened fire on the audience. Directly after the incident, Holmes, age 24, was arrested in a parking lot behind the theater. Police reported that during his arrest, Holmes compared himself to the Joker, the Batman villain. Ten days later, Holmes was arraigned by Colorado prosecutors and charged with 142 counts, including first degree murder, attempted murder, and possession of explosives.

Holmes had no previous record with the Aurora police other than one speeding ticket. He also had no history of trouble while attending the University of California, Riverside. He moved from California to Colorado in 2011 and enrolled in the neuroscience doctoral program at the University of Colorado in Denver. At the time of the shooting, Holmes was in the process of withdrawing from school. Even though his lawyers described Holmes as mentally ill, by the end of 2012, they had not yet said how he would plead. The preliminary hearing was set for early January 2013.

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