15 Miles From Columbine

By DeusExMacintosh

Shooting spree at Dark Knight premiere

Colorado awoke to its worst mass shooting since the Columbine massacre after at least 12 people were killed and 50 injured by a lone gunman wielding tear gas and firing randomly at cinema goers at the midnight premier of the Batman movie.

One traumatised eyewitness caught on camera soon after the shooting said: “There was gunfire, there were babies, there were kids, there was blood everywhere.”

Among those caught up in the attack were a three-month-old baby who was treated in hospital and released, a child aged six and people aged 16 to 31 who were treated for exposure to noxious chemicals.

The gunman, named by law enforcement officials speaking on condition of anonimity as James Holmes, 24, entered one of the three cinemas showing The Dark Knight Rises at the multiplex cinema in Aurora, a suburb of Denver, at about 12.30am. He came in through a side exit, dressed in black and wearing a flack jacket and mask, and carrying a rifle and hand guns.

Several eyewitnesses said they had assumed he was a special effects installation arranged by the cinema to mark the international premier of the Batman film, which by that time had reached a dramatic action sequence with Anne Hathaway in a shoot-out on screen. Even when he flung a gas canister into the air above the audience, and fumes spread through auditorium after a loud bang, people thought it was a clever stunt.

Then he started shooting, first to the back of the room and then randomly at individuals as they tried to make a get-away down the aisles…

Police officers arrested the suspect near a car behind the theater. When police found him, the shooter was carrying a knife, a rifle and a handgun. A further gun was later recovered from the theater.

Authorities said he was also wearing a bulletproof vest and there are reports that he also had a gas-mask.

“He did not resist, he did not put up a fight,” a police spokesman Frank Fania said in relation to the suspect’s apprehension.

Forensic experts later searched the shooter’s apartment looking for explosives that he said he had left in the property. The building was evacuated as a precaution during the operation.

For the community of Denver, the shooting will have terrible echoes of the massacre at Columbine High School, just 15 miles away from Aurora. On 20 April 1999 two students, Eric Harris, 18 and Dylan Klebold, 17 opened fire in the school, killing 12 classmates and a teacher before committing suicide.

The Guardian


  1. Posted July 22, 2012 at 2:37 am | Permalink

    It’s like one of those cancer clusters, isn’t it? Except with mass shooters. Poor Colorado.

  2. Posted July 22, 2012 at 6:01 am | Permalink

    Isn’t this fellow simply taking his country’s philosophy on how to treat humans in other countries and applying it locally? A few weeks ago a wedding party in Afghanistan was annihilated by young USA males. What’s the difference?
    The yanks make such a fuss over things. When you look at the total destruction of the infrastructure, buildings, culture, and the millions of murdered, maimed and orphaned in only one of the countries they’ve invaded recently, then this little incident and the toppling of the twin towers that were due for demolition anyway, shouldn’t rate a mention. Yet they’re still rabbiting on about it as if it was something special.

  3. cohenite
    Posted July 22, 2012 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    “and the toppling of the twin towers that were due for demolition anyway,”

    Usually demolition involves making sure the building is empty of people before hand; you complete and utter f..kwit.

  4. Posted July 22, 2012 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    [email protected]

    as if it was something special

    You are not taking that point anywhere near seriously enough. There is absolutely nothing specifically American about this: rampage shootings happen around the world. People trying to divine great cultural significance from such events in a particular country entirely miss the nature of the phenomenon.

    The jihadi phenomenon of deliberate, terrorising massacre has far more significance because it is deliberate, organised, systematic, etc. (And has killed a lot more people.)

    As for Afghanistan, there has been a net increase in infrastructure, population, massive fall in refugees, women getting educated, participating in social life, etc since the NATO invasion.

    Iraq, more mixed, but in both cases, the utter barbarism of the opponents is by far the most destructive element in human lives and opportunities. It is fine to be against the invasions (though the argument against Afghanistan is much weaker), but at least frame the discussion based on all the evidence.

  5. Posted July 22, 2012 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    [email protected] Manners please.

  6. cohenite
    Posted July 22, 2012 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    The wider issue about the US is that it is, despite all the US bashing, usually by antithetical cultures and cowards who live within either the US or similar societies, is that it is an individual rights based society which not only tolerates great levels of personal freedom and privacy for its citizens but is in fact predicated on those qualities.

    This current atrocity and arguably all the recent gun massacres in the US [except the Nidal Malik Hasan, Fort Hood effort] are due to these defining qualities of the US society.

    The issue for discussion therefore is NOT the usual, lazy, self-indulgent US bashing from comment 2, but aspects of individual freedom, the recognition of personal psychological abberation and how to contain the potential conflict which can flow from such abberations without generally constraining the individual rights of the vast mass of the citizenry.

    No doubt political correctness which is based on creating categories of victims, has stopped any meaningful discussion of the loons which inhabit any society and that and the often fine distinction between eccentricity and proclivity towards the commiting of such acts is also a barrier to any meaningful discussion.

    The issue of terrorism is another issue all together. Many of the acts of terrorism including the horrific Twin Towers and the Fort Hood massacre, are commited by individuals who appear not only to be normal but have done well in the Western society and therefore cannot be classified as being motivated by any discontent other than religious fanatacism.

    That being the case can a case for religious fanatacism being classified as a mental illness with great potential for its ‘sufferers’ to commit crimes of terrorism be made?

  7. TerjeP
    Posted July 22, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    It’s a horrible event for the victims and their families. However in terms of a statistical risk such events are pretty low order. Red buses are a bigger worry. Or in the case of Sydney it’s blue buses. What evokes the imagination in such cases is the notion that the death was by intent rather than by accident. However dead is dead and I’m not sure the underlying cause should makes much difference. If it was ten people dead due to a bus crash it probably wouldn’t make the international media and certainly wouldn’t stay their long if it did. Who noticed or recalls the recent news report of 95 dead due to a truck full of oil exploding?

  8. Mel
    Posted July 22, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Permalink


    “As for Afghanistan, there has been a net increase in infrastructure, population, massive fall in refugees, women getting educated, participating in social life, etc since the NATO invasion.”

    And so very very cheap when compared to a proper fiscal stimulus

  9. Posted July 22, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    [email protected] War is rarely a “good deal”. I was merely suggesting any comment be framed in terms of what has happened.

    It would also have been cheaper for the Taliban to either not have harboured Osama or have cut him loose. It is probably a good public policy rule–don’t harbour folk who engage in record-killing acts of terrorism on the territory of powerful countries who may take offence. 9/11 did, after all, kill more folk than the Pearl Habor attack, and the US took some offense at that too.

  10. Posted July 22, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    Just to add to the analytical mix; violence and gun-ownership are both declining in the US. Causation could be going either way, or both, or neither.

  11. Posted July 22, 2012 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

    Uh, could we please remember that a large number of people have died. A little bit of respect.

    The valid point that I think Ybgirp was trying to make in his attempt at humour was that news media is still very US centric. Coverage of this local horror has received much more attention over the weekend than the escalation of the civil war in Syria for example. This does not understate the severity of the Colorado massacre, Cohenite, but doesn’t assume that slaughter is “normal” anywhere else either. As friends have observed, we have personally been paying more attention to Aurora because we are also the kind of person who would turn up for a midnight screening SF premiere so it’s easier to empathise with the death of people like ourselves.

  12. Posted July 23, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    It is odd that the USA’s supposed individual freedoms are more religious than libertarian…… right to have arms okay, while pressure is constantly brought against right of women to control their own bodies (and sex life), citizens to smoke dope etc. etc.

    Rights or freedoms to do what one wants are drowned out by many of the same telling or shouting at people what they should or shouldn’t do, believe etc.

  13. Posted July 23, 2012 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    I have always been a fairly absolutist libertarian when it comes to alliances (what the lefties call ‘intersectionality’). Conservative gays opposed to abortion rights or an end to the war on drugs lose my support for their campaign for equal marriage; gun-owners keen on the right to keep and bear arms lose my support for their right when they oppose equal marriage or abortion, and so on down the line. One either supports liberty, or one doesn’t.

    If I have an exception to this rule, it is in my support for compulsory voting, on the basis that it works. I will also jettison principles in the face of empirical evidence to the contrary.

  14. TerjeP
    Posted July 23, 2012 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

    gun-owners keen on the right to keep and bear arms lose my support for their right when they oppose equal marriage or abortion, and so on down the line. One either supports liberty, or one doesn’t.

    So you don’t support liberty? I mean otherwise your first sentence seems to totally contradict the second one.

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