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Saturday, July 21, 2012
US police were last night searching the apartment and university of the suspect in the Batman movie massacre amid fears they have been rigged with "flammable and explosive" booby-traps.
Swat teams were scouring the Aurora, Colorado, home of 24-year-old James Holmes, who allegedly dyed his hair red and told police he is "The Joker, obviously the enemy of Batman".
A police robot was sent into the suspect’s apartment building — which, like four others nearby, has been evacuated — to set off any hidden trip-wires or devices just before 10pm Irish time.
Similar scenes were taking place at the University of Colorado-Denver nearby where the gunman had until recently studied.
Holmes, who is from California and was unknown to police, is charged with murdering 12 people and injuring 59 others after he opened fire at a special screening of The Dark Knight Rises on Thursday night.
Aurora police chief, Dan Oates, would only confirm the gunman had been wearing all back, body armour, a gas-mask and a ballistics helmet when the shocking scenes occurred.
The shootings have left the US devastated after yet another mass gun tragedy, this time just 20km away from the site of the 1999 Columbine school massacre which left 12 pupils and one teacher dead.
Holmes, who was a PhD student and had not been displaying abnormal signs, is understood to have walked into the midnight screening and bought a ticket with the crowd.
Approximately 20 minutes into the film, he slipped out of a side exit door, before assembling an arsenal of weapons, protective gear and still unidentified gas cylinders.
The gunman — initially believed to be part of a stunt to make the violent film more realistic — is then alleged to have walked up the aisles firing at the audience.
"He would re-load and shoot and anyone who would try to leave would just get killed," Jennifer Seeger, who was sitting in the cinema’s second row as the murders unfolded, said.
Holmes, who was armed with a number of weapons, did not resist arrest outside the cinema.
His only previous police record was a traffic ticket from last year.
However, his mother told US reporters last night "they have the right person".
In a sign of the panic which has swept the US after the mass shootings, armed New York police will be in place at the city’s screenings of the film.
US president Barack Obama said yesterday he was "shocked and saddened" by the "horrific and tragic" act.
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