The assault rifle, which is akin to an AR-15 and is a civilian version of the military’s M-16, could fire 50 to 60 rounds per minute and is designed to hold large ammunition magazines. The source said that Holmes allegedly had obtained a 100-round drum magazine that attached to the weapon but that such large magazines are notorious for jamming.
The law enforcement official said authorities think the gunman first used the shotgun — some victims have buckshot wounds — and then began using the assault rifle, which jammed. Then he resorted to the handgun.
Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates, interviewed on “Fox News Sunday,” did not confirm or deny that the gun jammed but said police found a 100-round magazine on the theater floor. He said he did not know whether it was empty.
Holmes is accused of killing 12 people and wounding 58 in one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history.
Initial police accounts said he surrendered without incident to officers who found him at his car behind the theater complex. But Oates, in an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, described a more complicated scene in the minutes after the shooting. He said police arriving at the scene might have mistaken Holmes for a SWAT officer. He was allegedly dressed in black ballistic gear, including a helmet, a throat guard, a vest, leggings and gloves.
Oates said a piece of equipment in Holmes’s elaborate gear — he would not specify which piece — struck one of the responding officers as irregular. The officer questioned Holmes. Oates did not describe the exchange, only the result: Holmes was arrested.
Police, meanwhile, are trying to restore some sense of normalcy to the neighborhood where Holmes lived and where residents of five buildings had been evacuated after police discovered that the suspect’s apartment had been booby-trapped with dozens of explosives.
After clearing the apartment of explosives Saturday, bomb squad officers on Sunday transported hazardous chemicals to a nearby field and burned or destroyed the material. Police said Holmes spent months amassing explosives, weapons and ammunition.
In an appearance Sunday on “Face the Nation,” Hogan said nine of the people wounded at the theater were in critical condition.
“They’re in bad shape,” Hogan said. “There are people who have had already numerous surgeries, numerous brain surgeries. There are some folks that are in bad shape.” He said authorities were analyzing the contents of Holmes’s apartment.
“I’m told there was a computer inside the apartment, and with the assistance of the FBI that computer will be completely analyzed,” he said. “That may take some time. So we’re hopeful that will yield some information.”
Meanwhile, details began to emerge about the failed neuroscience student who is scheduled to appear in court Monday. He tried to join a shooting range in late June. Glenn Rotkovich, owner of the Lead Valley Range in Byers, Colo., said Holmes e-mailed a request for an application to join. The application included a series of questions, including “Are you prohibited by state or federal law from possessing firearms or ammunition?” and “Have you ever been convicted of any domestic violence offense?” Holmes replied in the negative to all four such screening questions.
But when Rotkovich called Holmes, he said, he got an answering machine with a “bizarre,” guttural, unintelligible recorded greeting. He told his staff that if Holmes showed up he should not be allowed to fire weapons until Rotkovich checked him out.
At the memorial service, an array of speakers struggled to explain what had caused the attack. A Catholic bishop used the word “evil” six times.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) did not even want to try. “I refuse to say his name,” he said, to the loudest applause of the night. He sought to turn the attention to victims instead, reading their names and asking the crowd to remember them. At some names, family members cheered. Others brought cries of grief.
The scope of the tragedy was brought home at the end of the night The crowd was supposed to sing “Amazing Grace” as families of the dead filed out. But the song ended, and the families were still walking.
“Let’s do the first verse again, ‘Amazing Grace,’ ” an emcee said. The crowd sang it again, then again. Then another time, just humming and repeating “praise God” until the last of the family members had left the plaza.
Heath and Achenbach reported from Washington. Sari Horwitz, Carol D. Leonnig, Julie Tate and Jennifer Jenkins in Washington and Eli Saslow and special correspondent Sandra Fish in Colorado contributed to this report.