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Witnesses describe terror as gunman opens fire in movie theater



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Jordan Crofter, 19, of Aurora, said the suspected gunman "looked like an assassin ready to go war."

At a glance

Victim updates

At least 12 people were killed and about 50 were being treated at Denver area hospitals after a shooting at a midnight showing of Batman, the youngest a 4-month-old baby who has been released.

Twenty-two people were at University of Colorado Hospital, including the baby, for gunshot and shrapnel wounds.

Many victims being treated in at least six hospitals were under 40, including a 6-year-old taken to Children’s Hospital Colorado. The oldest reported patient is 45.

Besides gunshot wounds, some patients at the Medical Center of Aurora were treated for chemical exposure, most likely from tear gas. Patients there ranged from 16 to 31.

An emergency room doctor at the University of Colorado Hospital says the scene was chaotic, with patients dropped off by police cars, ambulances and regular cars.

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Crofter was sitting on the left side of the theater and toward the front when the door swung open and a silhouette appeared in front of the street lights.

He said the shooter was calm and almost strutted in, then pulled up his rifle and started shooting, stopping only to reload — like "shooting fish in a barrel."

When he saw two gas canisters hit the ground, Crofter immediately ran out of the theater.

Crofter said he was the first one in the lobby and when the manager asked what was going on, he yelled, "Bomb."

Julia Nguyen, 17, said she saw something fly across the theater, which she thought, at first, was a stink bomb, and then saw a flash.

Then she saw the gunman.

"He was absolutely quiet. He didn’t say a word. He just started firing rounds," said Nguyen, who ran out of theater as fast as she could with her friend, Erin Post, 15.


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Post said the gunman fired round after round.

"It just kept going and going and going. Like bam after bam after bam," she said. "Between every flash you could kind of see a gas mask."

Outside the theater, they found a 16-year-old bloody and limping boy, suffering from wounds to his thigh and lower calf.

They said they got the teen into the backseat of their car and used belts to put a makeshift tourniquet to stop the bleeding from his leg. They said he kept saying he wanted to find his little sister and that he wanted to pray with them.

They prayed in the car until an ambulance could take him to the hospital.

Joel Wheelersburg, 27, said he went to the movie with a church group that included his brother and sister-in-law.

"The first gun scene (in the movie) is where we heard real bullet shots, real gunshots, from our right," he said.

"It sounded like special effects, and from there we saw what seemed like ash or dust from the walls. We saw the smoke coming over, and that’s kind of when we knew something wasn’t right."

Wheelersburg said people started scrambling to get out through exits at the front and rear of the theater. He heard someone say there was somebody with a gun.

Wheelersburg and his group got out through the lobby and then went outside.

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Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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