Officers arrived at the theater in the Denver suburb of Aurora within 90 seconds of receiving the first 911 call at 12:39 a.m., and almost immediately arrested Holmes, who was next to his white Hyundai outside a rear entrance to the theater, police said.
Authorities recovered two Glock pistols, a Remington 12-gauge shotgun and a Smith & Wesson AR-15 assault rifle. Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said there was “pretty significant evidence” that the shotgun, the assault rifle and at least one of the pistols were used in the attack. He said he did not know what the “legal status” of the weapons was, a matter he said is under investigation.
Federal law enforcement sources said later the gunman bought all four guns legally over the last two months from the local branches of two national chains: Gander Mountain Guns and Bass Pro Shop.
Investigators believe the shooter acted alone and not as part of a terrorist group.
“We are not looking for any other suspects,” Oates told reporters. “We are confident that he acted alone, but we will do a thorough investigation to make sure that is the case.”
Witnesses told police the gunman fired a handgun in the air, then began shooting at adults and children in the darkened theater — many of whom initially thought his entrance was a promotional gimmick for the movie, “The Dark Knight Rises.”
The gunman looked calm and said nothing as he walked up an aisle, firing as he went, witnesses said. As shrieking movie-goers realized the attack was real, they dove to the floor or scrambled to flee the Century 16 theater.
“There were many, many shots fired,” Oates said at a midday news conference. “There are many critical patients, and I am not in any position to give you updates on the 59 who were injured.”
The bodies of 10 victims remained at the theater more than 12 hours later, Oates said, along with numerous shell casings. Oates said police are trying their best to remove the bodies, identify them and notify next of kin as soon as possible.
The gunman “was aiming anywhere,” survivor Chris Ramos told CNN. “He was not aiming for a specific person. He was aiming for everyone.” Ramos said he believes the man in the seat next to him, the father of two daughters, was killed.
Oates said the assailant was dressed all in black, wearing a “ballistic helmet,” a bulletproof vest, leggings, a throat protector, a groin protector, a gas mask and protective gloves. He declined to speculate on a motive for the massacre or say whether Holmes was answering questions from police.