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Saturday, July 21, 2012
"There were bullet casings just falling on my head, burning my forehead. Every few seconds it was just boom, boom, boom."
The US is today coming to terms with its latest mass shooting tragedy, after a much anticipated escape from daily life turned into a nightmare straight out of a Hollywood script.
At least 12 people were killed and 59 others — including a three-month-old — injured after a heavily-armed man, who told police he was "the Joker", opened fire during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises.
The shooting occurred 20km from the 1999 Columbine school massacre site and was described by the film’s director Christopher Nolan as "a senseless tragedy".
The suspect, San Diego-born James Holmes, booby-trapped his apartment, using chemicals in jars potentially connected to unknown cylinders similar to those he threw during the attack. He was until recently a PhD neuroscience student at a nearby university, and unknown to police.
New York screenings of the film will be patrolled by police to lessen copycat fears. However, while the suspect’s apparent sudden personality change has re-ignited the US gun control debate, for victims his actions hit closer to home.
"Every few seconds it was just boom, boom, boom. He would reload and shoot and anyone who would try to leave would just get killed," said eyewitness Jennifer Seeger. She said people had initially thought the gunman was movie PR "showmanship".
Shayla Roeder found a girl on the ground bleeding. "She just had this horrible look in her eyes," she said.
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