For hundreds of people in Aurora, Colo., the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises should have been memorable for the the chance to be among the first to see the most hotly anticipated film of the summer.
Instead, it turned to a nightmare, when 24-year-old James Holmes allegedly entered the Century 16 theater at the Aurora mall, dropped a canister of tear gas, and began firing into the panicking crowd.
For people that were in the theater, and the first responders who joined in the aftermath, the thrill of seeing the last of Christopher Nolan's Batman movie turned into terror.
Several reporters were in the theater, seeing the movie on their own time, and they, along with many others, turned to Twitter and YouTube to share what they were seeing, and to tell family and friends that they were alright.
Update (2:11 p.m. EST)
Created a blog post which I will update regularly on the status of my sister who was involved in the Denver shooting: jordanghawi.com/denver-theatre…— Jordan Ghawi (@JordanGhawi) July 20, 2012
The brother of deceased journalist Jessica Redfield has written an account of what happened inside the theater, as relayed to him by his sister's friend Brent, who was also inside when the shooting occurred:
"Jessica and Brent were seated in the middle portion of the theatre when a device was thrown into the theatre that produced a “hissing” sound. The theatre than began to fill with smoke which is when patrons began to move from their seats. At that time, shots were fired. Brent and Jessica immediately dropped to a prone position for cover. Jessica advised multiple times for someone to call 911, which Brent immediately attempted to do. Brent then heard Jessica scream and noticed that she was struck by a round in the leg. Brent, began holding pressure on the wound and attempted to calm Jessica. It was at this time that Brent took a round to his lower extremities. While still administering first aid, Brent noticed that Jessica was no longer screaming. He advised that he looked over to Jessica and saw what appeared to be an entry wound to her head. He further stated that Jessica presented with agonal respirations. Brent then took what may have been his only chance to escape the line of fire and exited the structure where he then contacted my mother. The veracity of any other statements not issued by myself or Peter Burns should be questioned."
Update (2:50 p.m. EST)
The family of suspect James Eagan Holmes has issued a statement through the San Diego, Calif., police department.
"Our hearts go out to those who were involved in this tragedy and to the family and friends of those involved," the statement said. "We ask that the media respect our privacy during this difficult time. Our family is cooperating with authorities in San Diego, California, and Aurora, Colorado. We are still trying to process this information and we appreciate that people will respect our privacy."
At a press conference in Aurora, Police Chief Dan Oats said police are certain Holmes acted alone, and they are not searching for any other suspects. Police are acting with extreme caution at Holmes' apartment, which they say is booby trapped.