Vigil held for US cinema massacre victims

Bomb squad experts will try Saturday to enter a gunman's booby-trapped apartment, hours after a late-night vigil for the 12 killed in a US cinema massacre that also injured 70.

Hundreds of mourners held candles, many sobbing and hugging each other in an outpouring of grief for those who died when the gunman opened fire in a packed cinema showing Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises."

The shooting drew expressions of concern from political leaders led by President Barack Obama, and revived the perennial debate about gun control in the United States.

On Saturday, Obama promised justice to the residents of Aurora, Colorado, saying: "The federal government stands ready to do everything necessary to bring whoever's responsible for this heinous crime to justice."

He said the government "will take every step possible" to ensure the safety of all Americans.

Bomb squad experts had been trying for much of the day Friday to gain entrance to the apartment since shortly after the shooting in the town of Aurora just outside Denver.

But they gave up shortly before sundown, and said they would resume again Saturday, when they hope to make a breakthrough that could also reveal clues as the motives of 24-year-old gunman James Holmes.

"It is a very vexing problem how to enter that apartment safely. I personally have never seen anything like what the pictures show us is in there. I'm a layman when it comes to bomb stuff, said Aurora police chief Dan Oates.

"I see an awful lot of wires, trip wires, jars full of ammunition, jars full of liquid. Some things that look like mortar rounds. We have a lot of challenge, to get in there safely."

Late Friday the town gathered for two vigils, including a midnight one, as it emerged that Holmes bought more than 6,000 rounds of ammunition on the Internet, and four guns, in the two months before the shootings.

The masked, black-clad shooter burst into a movie theater barely 20 minutes into the midnight screening, throwing two tear-gas type devices before opening fire.

"As far as we know, it was a pretty rapid pace of fire in that theater," said Oates, his voice shaking at times with emotion, and exhaustion after a long night and day dealing with the trauma.

In an end-of-day update, he amended slightly the number of victims of the shooting at a midnight screening of the latest Batman movie from 71 to 70. Twelve of them died, including 10 in the theater.

A local children's hospital reported six young victims, the youngest of whom was aged only six. At least three of the wounded were US military members, the Pentagon said.

Shots fired in one auditorium went through the wall and hit people in the auditorium next door. The first police were on the scene within 90 seconds, while eventually some 200 officers swarmed around the building.

"In the last 60 days, he purchased four guns at local metro gun shops and through the internet he purchased over 6,000 rounds of ammunition," the police chief said.

He added: "My understanding is that all the weapons that he possessed he possessed legally, and all the clips that he possessed, he possessed legally, and all the ammunition he possessed, he possessed legally."

Police arrested Holmes -- who was wearing full body armor and a gas mask, apparently to protect him from effects of his own tear gas -- without encountering resistance by his car at the rear of the theater.

Holmes, who reportedly attended the University of Colorado medical school until last month, had no criminal record aside from a citation for speeding in October 2011, according to police.

Witnesses described chaos chillingly similar to that depicted in the Batman films, in which maniacal villains terrorize Gotham City.

"I saw some people start to get up. I poked my head up to see what was going on and when I did that I saw another flash and instantly put my head down as he started shooting again," said 17-year-old Tanner Coon.

Cinemas in New York tightened security at Batman showings, and the AMC theatre chain announced a ban on face masks and fake weapons -- several people wore costumes in Aurora, possibly helping Holmes to blend in with the melee.

The French premiere of the film in Paris was cancelled.

As with previous such shootings -- all too regular in the US -- lobby groups and some political leaders called for legislation to restrict civilians' access to firearms.

"Maybe it's time that the two people who want to be president of the United States stand up and tell us what they are going to do because this is obviously a problem across the country," New York mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

Aurora is barely 20 miles (32 kilometers) from the scene of the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, in which two students shot dead 13 people before committing suicide.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • ToyotaPH continues it’s strong sales in February
    ToyotaPH continues it’s strong sales in February

    Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) sustains its strong sales in its February performance. Toyota’s strong performance last month was due to the  high demand of the Vios, with sales of 2,012 units and of course the rest of Toyota’s line up such as the Fortuner, Innova, Wigo, Hilux, Avanza and Corolla Altis. Toyota’s luxury brand, Lexus, recorded 60 units last month. …

  • No apology, but Noy seeks understanding
    No apology, but Noy seeks understanding

    There was no apology, but President Aquino yesterday expressed regret, took “full responsibility” and appealed to the nation for “deepest understanding” for the Jan. 25 Mamasapano raid in which dozens died, including 44 police Special Action Force (SAF) commandos. “To every Filipino who has felt failure or has been hurt because of the events related to this operation, it is with abiding humility that I ask for your deepest understanding,” Aquino said in a speech before the 246 new graduates of …

  • MVP on endorsement: Thanks, I’m no politician
    MVP on endorsement: Thanks, I’m no politician

    Businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan is grateful for Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s praise and presidential endorsement, but says he is not a politician. In an interview on the sidelines of the launch of the search for The Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) of the Philippines 2015 Wednesday night, Pangilinan dismissed the idea of running for president in the 2016 elections. “I’m not a politician, I’m just an ordinary business person,” he added. Santiago endorsed Pangilinan as a presidential candidate …

  • No Lenten break in operations vs lawless groups – AFP
    No Lenten break in operations vs lawless groups – AFP

    The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is not suspending its offensive against the Abu Sayyaf, New People’s Army (NPA) and other lawless groups during the Holy Week, an official said yesterday. Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, AFP public affairs office chief, said the AFP leadership is leaving it up to area and division commanders whether to raise the alert status in preparation for the Holy Week. Those deployed in areas where there are ongoing law enforcement operations against terrorist groups …

  • Probe harassment vs human rights lawyer, CA orders AFP
    Probe harassment vs human rights lawyer, CA orders AFP

    The Court of Appeals (CA) has ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to investigate a human rights lawyer’s claim of harassment, including surveillance, by several military officers. In a 22-page decision, the former Special Sixth Division of the appellate court granted the petition for writ of amparo and habeas data of Maria Catherine Dannug-Salucon. The CA ordered the AFP to identify the officers behind the surveillance and file charges against them. The CA ruling said …

  • Noy vows to dismantle bata-bata system in PNP
    Noy vows to dismantle bata-bata system in PNP

    President Aquino vowed yesterday to dismantle the culture of factionalism or the bata-bata system within the Philippine National Police as he continued the search for the next PNP chief. Speaking at the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) commencement exercises here, the President said the country needed solidarity among leaders and members of the police force so that the policemen would be effective protectors of Filipinos. “Our challenge to the next chief of our national police force: …

  • Envoy to expats: Retire, invest in Phl
    Envoy to expats: Retire, invest in Phl

    Retire and invest in real estate in the Philippines, especially now that the country has made it to the top 10 retirement destinations in the world. This is the message being spread by the Philippine embassy in Washington, with Ambassador Jose Cuisia Jr. leading the refrain in meetings with various Filipino-American communities in the US. In his talks, Cuisia said that an affordable cost of living as well as warm climate and people are just some of the things that make the Philippines a top …

  • PNPA spotlight falls on Ampatuan grandson
    PNPA spotlight falls on Ampatuan grandson

    The stigma of being a namesake of the principal suspect in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre did not prevent Cadet First Class Andal Ampatuan III from entering and graduating from the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA). Ampatuan III, now with a rank of police inspector, is a grandson of former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. The younger Ampatuan was among the 246 graduates of the PNPA “Lakandula” Class of 2015. Ampatuan III’s mother is Bai Rebecca Ampatuan, a daughter of the …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options