AURORA, Colo. - There really are no words to describe the shooting deaths at Friday's premiere of the "Dark Knight Rises."
There aren't words to explain the shock, the sorrow, the pain.
And it's unlikely there will be any to explain exactly why James Holmes collected his guns and began firing, killing 12 and wounding up to 59 others.
At a coffee shop east of Holmes' apartment and on the medical campus where he'd briefly been a student, the large screen TV blares the news, though there isn't a lot that's new. Customers stop and look at the screen, looks of sadness on their faces, then move on to the heat outside.
This is especially difficult because we’ve been here before.
Is it coincidence, we wonder, that it happened on the 20th, the same day of the month as the shootings at Columbine High School that happened in April of 1999? Maybe, maybe not.
The shootings certainly have plenty in common.
Everyday people going about their everyday lives.
And a guy with a gun (or two guys with guns, in the case of Columbine) determined to do harm.
There are certainly some differences from Columbine, too, of course.
At Aurora's Century 16 Movie Theater, police responded almost immediately, entering the theater instead of first security the perimeter and using caution on entering as they had at Columbine. The quick action
likely saved lives, and perhaps prevented some injuries.
Unlike the Columbine shooters, who were legally too young to obtain their weapons and used others to get their guns, James Holmes was 24, with no criminal record and little that would attract attention in a background check.
Now our region is left watching news reports 24-7, wondering how and why this could have happened again.
Families are mourning their loved ones.
The wounded are struggling to recover.
And as at Columbine, questions about how James Holmes failed to set off alarms and why he felt compelled to arm himself, then shoot children and families at a movie theater likely will never be answered to our satisfaction.
Sandra Fish teaches journalism at the University of Colorado and has reported on politics in Iowa, Florida and Colorado. Follow her on Twitter at @fishnette