The recent shooting spree in a Colorado theater has sparked talk among many about what possessed the killer to carry out his mass attack upon movie-goers, and what should be the proper response to the tragedy.
During a midnight showing of the Batman film The Dark Knight Rises at the Century 16 Theater in Aurora, Colorado, 24-year-old James Holmes launched an armed assault upon the scores of attendees, leaving 12 dead and 58 injured. A 6-year-old girl is listed as being among the dead.
According to eyewitness reports, Holmes purchased a ticket and sat in the theater for some time prior to its showing, and then left the building to return approximately 30 minutes later. When he reappeared through an exit door that he had propped open, he was dressed in bullet-proof gear and a gas mask, and was armed with a number of rifles and pistols. He also had gas canisters in his hand, which he thew into the crowd.
“He looked like an assassin ready to go to war,” one attendee stated.
Movie-goers state that at first, they were not sure if Holmes — and the fog that subsequently filled the room — was part of the movie. When he began to open fire, however, and crowd members began screaming and falling to the floor for safety, they knew something was terribly wrong. Many tried to escape with their lives.
The Huffington Post reports that one teenager, 17-year-old Tanner Coon, began to run out of the theater, but slipped on blood and fell on top of a woman that was lying on the floor. He stated that he tried shaking her, but she was unresponsive.
Attendee Jennifer Seeger said that as she attempted to escape, she saw a young teenage girl “lying lifeless on the stairs.” She also stopped to help a man who was shot in his back, but had to leave him behind.
“I had to go. I was going to get shot,” she said.
Due to the massive amount of phone calls that were placed to 911, over 200 police officers, ambulances and emergency personnel arrived at the theater within minutes.
Holmes was arrested without incident in the parking lot, where he told police that his apartment was booby-trapped with explosives. Residents surrounding Holmes apartment were evacuated, and police are still trying to find a way to safely enter the residence. It was reported, however, that Holmes left the theme to the Batman movie playing loudly on repeat. Others also state that he had painted his hair red like the Joker in Batman.
News reports explain that many are perplexed as to why Holmes committed the assault upon the theater as he has no criminal record and was considered by others to be a quiet, but smart, person. He was an honors student at the University of Colorado, and was studying in the school’s neuroscience program. However, Holmes recently requested to drop out of school.
“The University of Colorado Denver Aschutz Medical Campus can confirm that Mr. James Holmes was in the process of withdrawing from the University of Colorado Denver’s graduate program in neurosciences,” the university outlined in a statement. “Mr. Holmes enrolled at the university in June 2011.”
It is believed that Holmes had been planning the attack for weeks. He reportedly told police upon seizure that he was the Joker, the enemy of Batman.
Outlines of the movie state that the film had several violent scenes that were akin to Holmes’ actions. One scene involved a shooting and bombing spree on a football stadium. A scene from a previous film in the series involved the Joker instructing a man in a hospital bed on how to wreak havoc in society, which was how movie-goers also described the attack Friday.
“Introduce a little anarchy. Upset the established order and everything becomes chaos,” the Joker states in the film, while forcing the man to hold a gun to his head. “I’m an agent of chaos.”
“[Talking with a friend about the tragedy] got me thinking about another ‘Dark Knight’ who ruled the heart of a gunman in Aurora last night,” wrote Greg Stier in an online column. “It got me thinking about Satan and the stranglehold he has in the souls of so many. Jesus tells us in John 10:10 that this dark knight, ‘comes only to steal and kill and destroy,’ and he did just that last night. He used the trigger finger of this twisted madman to steal innocence, kill people and destroy hope.”
“This man that walked into that movie theater was controlled by the spirit of this age — the devil himself,” stated David Benham in an online video blog. “He senselessly and meticulously took life, and that is from the pit of Hell.”
“I hate [the devil] for the deception he unleashes in the hearts of so many. I hate him for the destruction he has been directly or indirectly involved with since the beginning of time. I hate him for his hatred of everything God and everything good,” Steir added.
He says that the situation has caused him to rise up and say no to the forces of darkness through prayer and evangelism.
“I’m dedicating myself afresh and anew to destroying his kingdom through intercessory prayer, rescuing lost souls from his grip and reeking havoc amongst his demonic minions. … Join me in this holy uprising against the unholy dark knight,” Steir wrote. “That dark knight who once led worship for all of heaven and was the chief guardian of the mountain of God, that dark knight who led a mutiny against the King of kings, that dark knight who was cast out of the presence of God and thrown to the earth in disgrace, that same dark knight who whispered in Hitler’s ear whispered in another ear last night. … I’m sick of it, and I’m asking you to be sick of it with me.”
“There is no force big enough to defeat the devil — only the blood of Jesus Christ and a full returning to Him,” Benham stated. “We need this in America today to stop this violence. Let’s return to Jesus.”
“There’s not a police force big enough to make a man do what is right, but there is another King, one named Jesus, who will get into the heart of a man and set him free,” Benham continued. “It is the responsibility of the church to expose this evil and to speak of it exactly what it is — It is Satan himself… We as the church must expose him for who he is and then wrap our arms of love and compassion around the families of these victims.”
“The Gospel ain’t going to preach itself. We must preach it,” Steir added. “We must love those around us and reach out to them with the Gospel message. Who knows? Your next door neighbor may be the next lone gunmen that does something crazy, stupid and dangerous. In either case, you have the Gospel message that can rescue your friends, neighbors, co-workers, classmates and co-workers from sin and Satan, from crimes big and small, from a wasted life.”
Holmes’ family is asking for privacy at this time. Neighbors state that Holmes’ parents are members of a local Presbyterian church.