Sat July 21, 2012
Tragedy In Colorado: The Latest
Originally published on Sat July 21, 2012 6:55 pm
The shocking shooting rampage at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., early Friday continues to dominate the news. We followed it throughout the day (it's now 5 p.m. ET) and will pick it up again early Sunday. NPR.org, the NPR Newscast Desk, Weekend All Things Considered and Weekend Edition Sunday are on the story too. All of NPR's coverage is being collected here.
Here's what happened today, starting with a quick summary:
-- The death toll remained at 12. Names of those killed continued to be reported as families were notified and they spoke with the news media. Among the latest: Matt McQuinn, 27, who last year moved to Denver from Ohio, and Navy Petty Officer Third Class John Larimer, 27. About another 58 people were injured and at least 11 of those were in critical condition as the day began. Later, hospitals reported that 7 patients were still in critical condition.
-- Bomb technicians continued to carefully work at the apartment of suspect James Holmes. By late morning, they had successfully disabled a trip wire and incendiary device that police say would have killed anyone entering the apartment. Shortly before noon in Colorado, technicians set off a "controlled detonation" that police say was successful. It was intended to disable at least one of the other triggering devices inside. Police believe they've neutralized the most dangerous threats.
-- We learned more about Holmes, who until the early Friday rampage had been known as "a clean-cut, studious young man of sparing words." In the past, he had worked as a summer camp counselor.
Our Live Blogging (scroll down and read "up" if you prefer to see it in chronological order).
Update at 6:15 p.m. ET. Arapahoe County Coroner Releases Names Of Deceased:
The Arapahoe County Coroner's Office released the names of 11 of those killed in the deadly shooting early Friday. One additional victim was awaiting positive identification.
The statement released by Arapahoe County coroner Michael Dobersen said autopsies were carried out on all of the victims and that the cause of death in all cases is related to gunshot wounds and the manner of death is homicide.
Update at 4:55 p.m. ET. Names Of Deceased Will Be Released By Coroner, Not Police:
It will be the Arapahoe County Coroner's office that will release the official list of names of those killed, Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates says. He said that may happen later today.
Update at 4:45 p.m. ET. Apartment Was Rigged To Kill, Chief Says:
"Make no mistake," Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates just said to reporters, Holmes' apartment was rigged "to kill whoever entered it." And Oates said it was most likely going to be a police officer who would have been going in after the attack at the theater.
Update at 4:30 p.m. ET. Threat At Apartment Has Been "Significantly Reduced:"
FBI Special Agent in Charge James Yacone just told reporters that "the threat has not been completely eliminated" inside Holmes' apartment, but "has been significantly reduced." If anyone had entered that apartment earlier, he said, they could have been killed. Bomb disposal technicians, he said, were dealing with "sophisticated" explosive devices left in the apartment.
Update at 4:23 p.m. ET. A Way To Help:
The news conference has begun. In his opening remarks, Gov. John Hickenlooper says that one way people can help the victims is by going to GivingFirst.org.
Update at 3:55 p.m. ET. Family Attorney Confirms Death Of Matt McQuinn:
NPR's Jennifer Ludden just spoke with attorney Robert Scott, who is dealing with media inquiries for the family of Matt McQuinn, 27. McQuinn went to the movie with his girlfriend Samantha Yowler and her brother Nick. Samantha was shot in the knee. As McQuinn and Nick Yowler tried to shield her, McQuinn was shot as well, according to what relatives have told the Dayton Daily News. McQuinn did not survive. A statement released by Scott states that McQuinn "perished from the injuries he sustained."
Update at 3:45 p.m. ET. News Conference Shortly:
Aurora Police have scheduled their next briefing for 4 p.m. ET. We'll monitor and update with news from it. That could include official word on the identities of those killed and injured.
Update at 2:45 p.m. ET. "Littered" With Explosive Devices:
The living room of Holmes' small apartment "is littered with about 30 softball-sized improvised explosive devices, according to a bomb technician at the scene," The Denver Post reports.
Update at 2:08 p.m. ET. "Remaining Major Threats" Have Been Eliminated, Police Believe:
"We have been successful in disabling a second triggering device ... and are hopeful we have eliminated the remaining major threats" inside Holmes' apartment, Aurora Police Sgt. Cassidee Carlson just told reporters, in an update about the "controlled detonation" that happened earlier.
There "still remain all kinds of hazards inside the apartment," she said, and if "another triggering device is found" another controlled detonation may be necessary.
Update at 1:50 p.m. ET. Detonation Was Successful, Police Say:
"The controlled detonation was successful. Streets now open." That's the official word from the Aurora Police.
Update at 1:40 p.m. ET. Controlled Detonation Just Happened:
NPR's Sam Sanders, who is in the neighborhood of Holmes' apartment with other reporters, emails us that "there's been a boom ... one ... loud ... no fire, debris." CNN says it heard shouts of "fire in the hole" before the explosion. This all happened a few minutes after Aurora Police posted on Twitter that they had closed the nearby streets and had made "reverse 911" calls to alert nearby residents that they were about to conduct a "controlled detonation." So it appears technicians have taken the next step in securing Holmes' apartment.
Update at 1:20 p.m. ET. Holmes Was A Summer Camp Counselor In 2008:
"The Colorado shooting suspect worked as a camp counselor in Los Angeles County in 2008 [at a camp] run by Jewish Big Brothers and Sisters, the group's CEO confirmed to NBC4 on Saturday," NBC Los Angeles reports.The station adds that "as cabin counselor, Holmes was responsible for the care and guidance of a group of about 10 children. His role was to ensure that the children had a "wonderful camp experience."
Update at 1 p.m. ET. Identities Of 12 People Killed Have Been Determined, Police Say; Families Being Notified:
"The Arapahoe County Coroner's Office has identified all 12 victims of the shootings early Friday at the Century Aurora 16 complex and completed autopsies on half of the dead, authorities say. 'We've got everyone positively identified and some family members have been notified,' said Arapahoe County coroner Dr. Michael Dobersen." (The Denver Post)
There is a news conference set for 4 p.m. ET at which Aurora Police may release those names to the public.
Update at 12:35 p.m. ET. At Apartment, "First Threat" Has Been Defeated:
"We have been successful in defeating the first threat" inside Holmes' apartment, Aurora Police Sgt. Cassidee Carlson just told reporters. Technicians disabled a trip wire and incendiary device that would have detonated "when somebody entered that apartment" and would likely have killed that person, she said. Now, technicians are again assessing the options and preparing for what's expected to be a "controlled detonation of another triggering mechanism." She said the news media will be given a heads up before any such detonation. (Carlson spoke to reporters a few minutes earlier than had been scheduled.)
Update at 12:25 p.m. ET. Police To Brief Again Shortly:
The Aurora Police just said they will be briefing reporters again at 12:35 p.m ET. The spokeswoman said earlier that they would give notice before any controlled detonation inside Holmes' apartment. That could be the subject of the briefing.
Update at 12:15 p.m. ET. About The Victims.
According to The Associated Press:
"Many victims treated at hospitals were under 40, including a 4-month-old baby and 6-year-old. The oldest reported patient was 45. Victims were treated for chemical exposure, apparently related to canisters thrown by the gunman, and gunshot and shrapnel wounds. Eleven remain in critical condition."
Update at 12:05 p.m. ET. No Online Trail?
After other mass killings, such as the one that happened a year ago Sunday in Norway, the suspect's online postings have quickly surfaced and helped paint a picture of that person.
But according to the Los Angeles Times, Holmes "left little record of his thoughts or activities online, with no Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Myspace accounts under his name."
Update at 11:40 a.m. ET. More On Holmes:
According to The San Diego Union-Tribune, people in Holmes' home town say he was "as quiet and unassuming as the middle-class North County neighborhood where he grew up."
Update at 11:25 a.m. ET. Warner Bros. To Delay Reporting Box Office Numbers For The Dark Knight Rises:
According to ABC News, "in the wake of the mass shooting at a Colorado movie theater during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises, Warner Bros. announced it would hold off reporting the film's opening grosses. [The decision is] 'out of respect for the victims and their families,' the studio said."
Update at 10:45 a.m. ET. Neighbor Says She Almost Opened Holmes' Door.
There's a chilling account, via The Associated Press, from a woman who lives in an apartment below Holmes.'
The wire service reports that Kaitlyn Fonzi, 20, a graduate student at University Hospital, said that around midnight Thursday "she heard techno-like, deep-based reverberating music coming from [Holmes'] apartment. She went upstairs to the suspect's place and put her hand on the door handle. She felt it was unlocked, but she didn't know if he was there and decided not to confront him. 'I yelled out and told him I was going to call the cops and went back to my apartment,' she said. Fonzi called police, who told her they were busy with a shooting and did not have time to respond to a noise disturbance."
If she had opened the door, Fonzi worries, she might have set off the booby traps inside.
Update at 10:20 a.m. ET. Navy Issues Statement About Sailor Who Was Killed:
Petty Officer Third Class John Larimer, 27, "died from injuries sustained in the incident," the Navy says in a statement. It adds that "one other Sailor was treated for injuries and released at the scene."
Update at 10:10 a.m. ET. Police Say There May Be A "Controlled Detonation" at Holmes' Apartment:
Bomb technicians may need to set off a "controlled detonation" at Holmes' apartment to make it safe to go in and investigate there, Aurora Police Sgt. Cassidee Carlson just told reporters. "We're hoping to get in there within the next hour," she added.
Carlson warned that there may be a fire. City firefighters are at the scene. Among the things inside the apartment, she said, are "aerial shells."
Update at 9:55 a.m. ET. Another Victim Reportedly Identified:
CNN.com says: "Another of the fatal victims was John Thomas Larimer, a servicemember in the Navy who was serving at his first post, said his father, Scott Larimer. A Navy notification team officially informed the family in Crystal Lake, Illinois, around midnight Saturday, a statement from the family said." The Chicago Sun-Times says Larimer was stationed in Aurora.
His is the fourth name of a person said to have been killed. The others as of now: Micayla Medek, Alex Sullivan and Jessica Ghawi.
Update at 9:45 a.m. ET. Aurora Police To Brief The News Media Shortly:
The city's police department just announced it will hold a briefing for reporters at 10 a.m. ET. We'll watch for news from it.
Update at 9:35 a.m. ET. FBI Has No Indications That Other Shooting Sprees Are Planned At Theaters:
"The FBI and Homeland Security Department say there is no information indicating plans for more shooting sprees at movie theaters around the country," The Associated Press is reporting. The wire service is citing "an intelligence bulletin obtained by The Associated Press," that it says also indicates "investigators have not figured out the suspected shooter's motivations."
Update at 9:25 a.m. ET. The Inevitable Comparisons:
As we say in a new post, "when tragedies happen, comparisons are always made to past events. It's become part of the news coverage of the Aurora, Colo., theater rampage to refer to it as 'one of the deadliest mass shootings in recent U.S. history,' as The Associated Press says."
That post, headlined "Aurora Rampage Joins Grim List Of Worst Mass Shootings," has a list of other such tragedies from recent years.
Update at 8:45 a.m. ET. Robot May Go Into Holmes' Apartment, Then A Bomb Technician:
Experts are hoping they can send a robot into Holmes' booby-trapped apartment at some point today, KUSA-TV just reported. But the station reports that officials say if the bombs are to be defused, a technician will need to go in to do that dangerous job.
Update at 8:40 a.m. ET. Webcast From Denver:
Update at 8:20 a.m. ET. Holmes Was "A Smart And Quiet Man:"
We've got a separate post with some of the latest reporting about Holmes.
Update at 7:35 a.m. ET. Names Of Some Who Were Killed Continue To Emerge:
According to The Associated Press, "the deceased victims included 23-year-old Micayla Medek, said Anita Busch, the cousin of Medek's father. The family took the news hard, but knowing her fate after waiting without word brought them some peace, Busch said. 'I hope this evil act, that this evil man doesn't shake people's faith in God,' she said. Besides Medek, relatives confirmed that Alex Sullivan and Jessica Ghawi were among those killed, Sullivan on his 27th birthday."
Eyder wrote about Ghawi earlier. As he noted, "by just minutes, Jessica Ghawi escaped a mass shooting in Toronto, last month. She chronicled the experience on her blog." But Friday in Aurora, her brother has reported, she was among those killed.