tv ABC World News With Diane Sawyer ABC July 20, 2012 6:30pm-7:00pm EDT
tonight on a special edition of "world news" t cay yoes and carnage at the movie. we take you moment by moment body armor and a gas mask enters and open fire, more than 70 people shot. the worst shooting rampage in modern, american history. the suspect, a neuroscience student who called himself "the joker" who he is and the web of 00 bob by traps and explosives he left behind. from thoes who es kapd harrowing stories of survival. the 19-year-old who took a bull let leaving a mother and children out of danger. abc news on the ground following every detail.
>> tragedy in colorado, the movie theater massacre. >> good evening. as we come on the air tonight, another safe part of american life has been shaerted by a lone gunman with an assault weapon. that movie theater in aurora, colorado, taking alongside columbine and virginia tech. we have cell phone video taken right after the man in the gas mask opened fire at the midnight show batman. at this hour, 12 people killed, more than 50 wounded and tonight, undercover police are beefing up security at movie theaters around this country. these are the two photos everyone has been studying for some meaning, how did james holmes become the 24-year-old grad student who called himself "the joker." across the country, abc news is on this story and david mur is
starting our coverage of what happened in that theater minute by minute. >> diane, good evening. this the the movie theater in colorado. it is incredible to think last night those theaters with sold out. so many movie goer excited to see batman. they saw a real life horror scene. they carry t oud the bo disof the dead. >> reporter: these are the terrifying moments captured on a cellphone. the chaos that unfolded minutes into the new "batman" movie. >> oh my god. this is crazy. >> reporter: moviegoers thought the first signs of smoke in that theatre were all part of the premiere. but soon patrons were racing from the theatre covered in blood. it all began as a night of anticipation. four sold out theatres in aurora, colorado -- just outside denver. some people dressed as characters from the film. some tweets from those arriving -- it's going to be a good night, wrote one. but 24-year-old james holmes, the suspect, had also purchased his ticket, his hair died red like the most recent version of the joker.
five minutes past midnight, inside the sold out theatre 9, holmes was in the theatre taking his seat along with everyone else. the lights go down and the movie begins. not long after the opening credits, one witness said the suspect appeared to be getting a phone call. now it's believed it was an excuse for him to get up from his seat and leave through one of the emergency exits. as the movie continues, outside authorities believe he was gearing up. dressed in black, wearing a bulletproof vest, a ballistic helmet, a gas mask, gear covering his throat, legs and tactical gloves, too. he is heard saying, "i am the joker." standing at the front of the theatre, witnesses say holmes hurled two green canisters. >> i heard the sound of metal canisters clinking around. then i saw plumes of smoke. that smoke carrying some sort of irritant spread. witnesses say it smelled like pepper spray. and so many are tricked into thinking it was simply a special effect or a stunt -- all part of the movie. until -- then, standing in front of the screen, he opens fire. jennifer seeger told us she was face to face with the gunman. he was pointing the gun? >> yeah, at me. and anybody else in the row that
was near me. >> reporter: and what did you do? >> at that point, i had to move. i instinctively dove as far on the ground and the aisle. >> reporter: when she ducked, he started firing on the row sitting behind her. >> he unleashed his fury on everybody else. there were dead bodies, people injured. i could hear moaning and groaning. people were shouting. crying babies. moms, lay dwi a baby in there that got shot out. it was tarrying h. >> reporter: for those trying to hide on the floor, burning hot shell cases landing on them, showering over them. others ran to the exit. he notices. and witnesses say the suspect begins shooting at people trying to get out. and when he runs out of ammunition, silence. >> you're just sitting there like waiting ducks and it got really silent because he was reloading his gun and all you hear is the footsteps getting closer to you. >> reporter: you were hearing the screams? >> yes, and when i looked up there were bodies just laying on the stairs. >> reporter: all the while, the suspect re-loading.
the gunman begins his assault all over again. people had been shot in the leg, the arms, the thigh, the back. it was just terrible. a staggering 71 people shot, among the injured a 4 month old baby who survived. and at 12:39, the first of hundreds of calls to 9-1-1. >> they got a team getting ready to come in on the first floor. >> reporter: within a minute and a half, police are on the scene. 200 officers in all would descend on the theater. >> reporter: police enter with flashlights shouting "put your arms up" to the frantic movie goers trying to get out, still loading them in to squad cars and racing them to the hospital. >> the back is full of blood. i don't know if that matters or not. >> full of what? >> blood, excessively. back seats are full of biohazard material. at 12:45 the suspect is spotted. there is a gun on top of his car. he surrenders without a fight. they are planning a larger vigil
this weekend. there's a laser focus on that young man who sur rended in the parking lot behind me without a fight. why did he do what he did in that theater here last night. >> david, thank you. as we know, what he did in in theet ser not all he had planned. as we are on the air, bomb squads are continuing their dangerous work at his apartment. police say it is a cat kradle of booby traps, explosives and chemicals. who is this man determined to sew so much chaos. abc's brian ross is here. >> in an air of facebook and twitter, no one posted by or about james holmes online. he is a man of mystery. it's very cleerks as his life was in crisis, he began to make plans for his attack. he move colorado last fall. came across as a quiet and easy going college student. but it was a different jim holmes who showed up at this san
diego pawnshop asking for tips about firing a gun. >> i immediately recognized him when i saw his picture. i was -- my first words out of my mouth, oh my god, he looks very familiar. >> reporter: last night, at his apartment building heard loud music blaring around midnight from his room, with the recorded u sounds of gunshots. >> knowing i opened the door to his apartment, banging on that door, thank god that he wasn't there. >> and then holmes apparently attempted to make himself into the joker character of the bat machb series. according to a briefing given to the new york police commissioner. >> he had hid hair painted red. he said he was the joker. >> reporter: it was over the last few months that holmes, who was fphi beta kappa in college saw his dreams collapse as he with draw from a p.h.d program in neuro science at the university of colorado. >> these ents come out about
someone thinks about and plans for these attacks. >> this is jimmy clean cut 5'1/1" he had been a member of the jr. varsity soccer team. >> he was just quiet. >> when holmes mother, psychiatric nurse was first contacted at her san diego home this mortgage, she did not seem surprised that something had happened. you've got the right person she told abc news. i've got to skaul the police. >> today his father robert left the family home in san diego under police protection to fly to denver. in colorado, police continue to search holmes apartment, which was described as elaborately bob by trapped with chemicals and ensend yar device. >> authorities fear he may have ribbed university buildings where he took his classes. diane, late tonight we got word from our denver affiliate, that holmes was so calm because he had taken doses of the painkiller vicodin. >> a very strong painkiller. thank you, brian. i want to bring in our pier
thomas right now. pier, you have news about the weapons he had. were they legal? how powerful were they. >> reporter: james holmes came ready for war with a smith & wesson assault rifle like the one we're about to show. it has a special magazine fire as many as 100 bull lets in just a few minutes. they tral at such a high speed, travel through two or three people at a time. he had a 12 gauge shotgun and two .40 caliber pistols. he had a gas mask. diane, sources tell us shoems the classic lone wolf. no ties to terrorist organizations and no criminal record to speak of. only record we know of is a speeding ticket. that's very important, diane, it means he would pass ever background check. he bought the guns legally at three local sporting goods stores. >> when he you say power, apparently one of the bullets passed through that theater where he was into another theater and injured someone there, according to the police chief. what about the booby traps and
these chemicals? >> tonight a very tense situation on going ats the suspect's apartment. we're told it's booby trapped, full of trip wires, containers of flammable liquids and what appear to be large explosive devices. sources say the bombs involved a combination of gas and powder devices. it's so dangerous that authorities are inserting remote controlled cameras to scan the rooms. one official said holmes was like a mad scientist. sources say the rooms appear to be designed to explode if police raced through the door. it was massacre police if he had been killed at the scene, diane. >> pier thomas also reporting in tonight. above all, of course, this is a story of those who lived and those who did not. how one seat made all the difference between life and death. we've been hearing harrowing stories today. we've seen the photos of families awaiting word about their loved ones. this woman overheard saying, they cannot find him.
abc's chris cuomo spent the day with the some of those families and the survivors. chris. >> reporter: one of the things that make this so unique is so young. they're still in a fog. they don't know how to deal with what happened or why it happened. but the worst agony so far, diane, is still reserved for family, loved ones worrying about the unknown. >> reporter: today friends ran to a nearby high school desperate for any news of loved ones, terrified of the unknown. >> his name is alex sullivan. please call so we can find him. so far, the name of one victim, jessica ghawi, 24, an aspiring sports reporter, who incredibly survived another shooting in toronto last month and blogged about the preciousness of life. >> i was reminded that we don't know when or where our time on earth will end. when or where we'll breathe our last breath. survivors like chris ramos, try
to make sense of what he witness ed >> there's no feeling, no word, no jarring detail that i can give you to make you understand we felt. just washing away the dirt and the fear that they have on their skin. >> reporter: the horror created by a man at his worst, but saved by people at their best like jarell brooks, just 19 years old, who took a bullet to the leg while helping a mother and her two children escape. >> reporter: do you think about where that bullet would have gone? >> the position where i was at, it could have hit her in her head because i was guiding her, doing baby steps. i was crawling. the littlest one, the baby girl, probably could have got hit in the head. >> hero, how do you feel about that word being put on you for what happened in that theater? >> i don't want to say hero, necessarily. i was just in the wrong place at the right time. that's all i can say. >> reporter: isn't it you in the wrong place at the wrong time
because you wound up getting shot. >> the wrong place because i had to deal with the situation, but i was there at right time because i was there to help the family. >> his most heroic act, the forgiveness he has for the man who shot him. >> i don't hate the man who shot me. forgiveness is more bold than, you know, hate or revenge or redemption. >> reporter: what a powerful message of forgiveness for what he suffered, what he saw, and the longer i'm here, the more stories we're hearing of others like jarrel, who kept this from being even worse. >> chris, thanks so much for introducing touz that stranger. well, i had a chance to talk to the mom who's children, in fact, he helped save. i spoke to the mother, the father, and by the way, you should know, that this mother, this mother, also had gunshots, wounds, in the backs of her legs. >> you didn't know if it was
fireworks or what it was, but my first instinct was tell her get to the ground. >> but where was the baby? >> the baby was in my arms at that time. and then it was just chaos. >> at that moment, i just remember thinking, i'm not going to die in here. me and my kids, we are not going to die in here. i need to get them out. my daughter tripped and i pulled her up and i was just dragging her. we just got to get out. it was so horrible. >> and you were wounded in the back of your leg? >> i got a shot and i have sclap nel wounds tall way from my ankle to my upper thigh. >> that shot was heading their way. >> it was headed towards my daughter had i not moved her, i had just put her in front of me when i felt it. had i not moved her, i don't know what would have happened to her. >> i just thank god we sat where we did and we showed up late, because where we were going to sit was in the front row where
the gunman came in. >> everybody there was just watching a movie. we just went to watch a movie. >> he's asleep right now in your arms? >> yeah. he's fine. >> they told us they're so grateful to that stranger who helped. and coming up here, it was supposed to be the movie event of the summer. why police believe that character from the batman films may have played a role in this tragedy. in florida we had more suntans... in alabama we had more beautiful blooms... in mississippi we had more good times... in louisiana we had more fun on the water. last season we broke all kinds of records on the gulf. this year we are out to do even better... and now is a great time to start. our beatches are even more relaxing... the fishing's great. so pick your favorite spot on the gulf... and come on down. brout to you by bp and all of us who call thgulf home.
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test easy. and now, as we said, police in colorado are studying the batman movies and economic books to learn more about the mind of the killer in aurora. and as we also said, police departments around this country are sending extra security to guard theaters showing that movie tonight. here is abc's dan harris. >> reporter: the movie event of the summer has tonight become a massive security concern. at amc theaters nobody is let in with a mask or fake weapon. >> no part of you is thinking i don't know if i want to go see this movie? >> no, no. i want to see this movie. >> just because one person decided to do it, doesn't mean it will happen in cities all across america, i don't think. >> despite a strong start at the box office, the studio is
reeling with the suspect james holmes, allegedly telling police, i am the joker. he died his hair possibly to look like the character in this scene. he also allegedly rigged his apartment with a lab rat booby traps, a favorite weapon of the joker who gleefully executes elaborate lethal crimes and was once described by the actor heath ledger as a murdering schizophrenic clown with zero empathy. >> everything becomes chaos. >> reporter: to call the batman movie dark would be an understatement. one of the comics that inspired the movie showed a bad guy shooting up a movie theater. the director of the movie says that grit and moral ambiguity is exactly what resonates with fans. >> they will be unsettled in the way we want them to be. >> batman is not the first movie. columbine shooters reenacted scenes from the matrix.
experts say movies aren't the cause of these kills, only the inspirati inspiration. maybe in his mind, maybe he was becoming part of the movie. look, what this person can do, look at the power that they have in their hands. >> reporter: and tonight, we're outside a movie theeter in manhattan, where at times there have been lines, diane, around the block. just moments ago, we got a statement from the director of the movie, who says, quote t movie theater is my home and the idea that somebody would violate that innocent and hopeful place in a savage way is devastating to me. >> dan harris reporting in. every single family in the country has to address what it means to a child when a movie theater was not safe. when we come back, the best thing to say to your children and grandchildren about what happened. the medicare debate continues in washington... ...more talk on social security... ...but washington isn't talking to the american people. [ female announcer ] when it comes to the future of medicare and social security,
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we have to let your kids know that this is an isolated incident. it's tragic, it's horrible, but it's isolated. we have to talk about it. >> we have got to talk about it. that was the mayor of aurora, colorado, steve. i want to bring in our editor dr. richard besser, a pediatrician by the way. you studied so many of these cases. what's the important important and surprising thing we should remember? >> i think it's so important to remember that you don't need to have been in that movie theater to be really traumatized fwhi. so you have to take your own pulse and see what your level of stress is and watch for that stress in your children. >> tell me the best things to say at each age for a child. >> a child who is under 7, what you want to do is shield them. they'll never be able to understand this. don't let them watch television about it or see it on computers. we know that they're at risk for
post-traumatic stress from seeing this over and over again. children who are older, young school age children, you want to reassure them, let them know, this was a rare event. this was a bad person, a sick person and they got him. he's no longer there. then your older children, the betweens and teens, you want to have a conversation with them. they'll play off you and how you're reacting to this. you want to understand where they're coming from. i would ask them one question t next time they want to go to a movie, say, can i come too? you may find that a teenager who didn't want to spend time with you at the movie theet ser going to be comforted by having you by their side. >> don't assume this isn't affecting them just because they say nothing. >> you have to watch for those diane. >> and our team on the ground in colorado will be up next. david muir, chris cuomo with more thoughts, more pictures from aurora. that's next. people with a machine.
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a live shot now of the white house, the flag at half staff. president obama said this morning, it is a day for prayer and reflection. and now, we want to go back to aurora for a final thought from abc's david muir and also from abc's chris cuomo. david. >> diane, when we boarded the plane today to come to denver, people on the plane saying have you heard, can you believe it that this kind of tragedy would strike this region again. this movie theater is 13 miles from columbine high school. so many of the stories we heard today heart breaking. they dealt with this just a few years ago, diane. >> and chris, final thoughts
from you? >> not over yet, diane. still so many struggling for life in the hospital, families who don't know what happened. people dealing with head shots, chest wounds. this is far from over. yet, we must remember, we got lucky here. the police know this theater very well. they're used to trouble here. they knew the ins and outs of this theater. they got men here in two minutes. if not for that response time, who knows what he would have done? >> it was an extraordinary response for law enforcement. the may mayor said today, we will be back on our feet after taking a blow. i want everyone to know that chris cuomo and i will coanchoring a special edition of 20/20 don't. we will have new details and new photos as well. "nightline" of course will have a specific edition later. and all the breaking details throughout the night at abcnews.com. david muir at this chair and