12 people were killed and 59 injured at the premiere of the latest Batman movie in a US cinema hall yesterday when a masked gunman sprayed the audience with bullets.

The gunman, dressed in black, wearing a gas mask and a full body armour, marched into the packed theatre in Aurora, a suburb of Denver, Colorado, during a midnight showing of ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ starring Christian Bale and Anne Hathaway.

He entered the theatre through the emergency exit lobbing two canisters that instantly filled the theatre with smoke and then used his automatic rifle on the audience.

Citing FBI, American TV networks said the gunman has been identified as 24-year-old James Holmes from Aurora.

Police said 10 people were killed at the scene, while they put the overall death toll to at least 12. Earlier police had said at least 14 people had died but later revised the toll.

The US Defence Department said that some members of the military were either killed or wounded in the shooting.

The US President, Mr Barack Obama, called the shooting “horrific”, after being told about it shortly before 5:30 am (1530 IST).

Mr Obama, who was in Florida cut short his re-election campaign trip to the US state today to return to Washington after the shooting incident, spokesperson Mr Jen Psaki said.

“Michelle and I are shocked and saddened by the horrific and tragic shooting in Colorado ... my administration will do everything that we can to support the people of Aurora in this extraordinarily difficult time,” Mr Obama said.

“We are committed to bringing whoever was responsible to justice. As we do when confronted by moments of darkness and challenge, we must now come together as one American family,” he added.

Obama told a somber crowd at a campaign rally in Fort Myers that the shooting “reminds us of all the ways that we are united as one American family.”

(This article was published on July 21, 2012)
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