Colorado · Massacres/Mass Murder

The 2012 Aurora theater shooting

July 20, 2012
Aurora, Colorado
James Eagan Holmes uses tear gas and various fire arms to shoot movie goers at the midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises, killing 12 and injuring 70

Holmes had dressed in tactical gear including a gas mask, load-bearing vest, bullet-resistant leggings, and throat protector. Initially, most of the audience didn’t believe Holmes was a threat, assuming he was in costume for the midnight screening, until he began shooting at the crowd, firing a total of 76 shots.

Approximately nine minutes after the attack began, a call was made to 911; officers arrived within 90 seconds of the call. Five minutes later, Holmes was arrested next to his car, offering no resistance.

Of those killed, the youngest was 6 years old. The child’s mother was critically wounded, becoming a quadriplegic after the attack, and miscarried the child she was carrying. Four other victims killed died while shielding their girlfriends.

Holmes attempted a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, with his attorneys citing several visits to mental health professionals leading up to the massacre, as well as multiple reports of Holmes’ homicidal statements, both to the mental health professionals and to a fellow student. The plea was rejected and Holmes was found guilty of first degree murder, attempted first degree murder, possession of an illegal explosive device, and enhancement of a crime of violence. He was sentenced to 12 life sentences, one for each of the victims killed in the attack, without the possibility of parole plus an additional 3,318 years.

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