Obama meets with Colo. leaders, families of movie shooting victims

Updated:

Loading

President Barack Obama traveled to Colorado on Sunday to visit with families of victims of the movie theater shooting.

White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer announced plans for the trip on Saturday night. Aides say the trip will also include meetings with state and local officials.

In his weekly radio address, Obama called for prayer and reflection on the shooting rampage in Aurora, Colo., which claimed 12 lives. He urged Americans to embrace the families who lost loved ones in Aurora and to "let them know we will be there for them as a nation."

Police say the Colorado shooting suspect planned the rampage that killed 12 and injured dozens of others at a suburban movie theater with "calculation and deliberation."

They say James Holmes received months of deliveries in advance that authorities believe armed him for battle and were used to rig his apartment with explosives aimed at killing first responders.

Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates says "You think we're angry? We sure as hell are angry."   Authorities are still working to clear dangerous explosive materials from inside Holmes' suburban Denver apartment, which Oates says was booby trapped to kill "whoever entered it," noting it would have likely been one of his officers.

A law enforcement official says federal authorities have detonated one small explosive and disarmed another.  

The official says Holmes' apartment appears to have three types of explosives -- jars filled with accelerants, chemicals that would explode when mixed together and more than 30 "improvised grenades."

FBI Special agent James Yacone says that while most of the explosives have been rendered safe, "the threat has not been completely eliminated." But he says families should be allowed back into their apartments by Sunday.

Colorado authorities have released the names of all 12 victims killed in a fatal movie shooting.  

The Arapahoe County coroner's office list includes eight males and four females, the youngest being a 6-year-old girl.

All died of gunshot wounds sustained during the Friday shooting.

One of the 12 has been tentatively identified and is awaiting final identification.

The victims' families were previously notified and some identified their relatives as victims, but the list released Saturday is the first official confirmation from authorities.

Oates says there are 70 victims but not all were shot. Eleven are in critical condition.

The chief says Holmes purchased four guns at local gun shops and 6,000 rounds of ammunition through the Internet.

Holmes was in custody Friday.

Witnesses described a scene of chaos as Holmes opened fire on the crowd.

"There were bullet (casings) just falling on my head. They were burning my forehead," Jennifer Seeger said, adding that the gunman, dressed like a SWAT team member, fired steadily except when he stopped to reload.

Authorities still have not released a motive in the shooting.

Holmes had an assault rifle, a shotgun and two pistols, a federal law enforcement official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing investigation.

FBI agents and police used a hook and ladder fire truck to reach Holmes' apartment in suburban Denver, Aurora police Chief Dan Oates said. They put a camera at the end of 12-foot pole inside the apartment, and discovered that the unit was booby trapped. Authorities evacuated five buildings as they determine how to disarm flammable and explosive material.

Victims were being treated for chemical exposure apparently related to canisters thrown by the gunman. Some of those injured are children, including a 4-month-old baby who was released from the hospital.

The movie opened across the world Friday with midnight showings in the U.S. The shooting prompted officials to cancel the Paris premiere, with workers pulling down the red carpet display at a theater on the famed Champs-Elysees Avenue.

It was the worst mass shooting in Colorado since the Columbine High School massacre on April 20, 1999. Students Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, opened fire at the school in the Denver suburb of Littleton, about 15 miles west of Aurora, killing 12 classmates and a teacher and wounding 26 others before killing themselves.

Friday's attack began shortly after midnight at the multiplex theater at a mall in Aurora, the state's third-largest city.

The film has several scenes of public mayhem — a hallmark of superhero movies. In one scene, the main villain Bane leads an attack on the stock exchange and, in another, leads a shooting and bombing rampage on a packed football stadium.

It was the final installment of the "Dark Knight" trilogy directed by Christopher Nolan, starring Christian Bale as Batman. The series has a darker tone than previous Batman incarnations. It is the follow-up to "The Dark Knight," which won Heath Ledger a posthumous Oscar for his searing portrayal of The Joker.

The gunman released a gas that smelled like pepper spray from a green canister with a tag on it, Seeger said.

"I thought it was showmanship. I didn't think it was real," she said.

Seeger said she was in the second row, about four feet from the gunman, when he pointed a gun at her face. At first, "I was just a deer in headlights. I didn't know what to do," she said. Then she ducked to the ground as the gunman shot people seated behind her.

She said she began crawling toward an exit when she saw a girl about 14 years old "lying lifeless on the stairs." She saw a man with a bullet wound in his back and tried to check his pulse, but "I had to go. I was going to get shot."

Witness Shayla Roeder said she saw a young teenage girl on the ground bleeding outside the theater. "She just had this horrible look in her eyes .... We made eye contact and I could tell she was not all right," Roeder said.

Police, ambulances and emergency crews swarmed on the scene after frantic calls started flooding the 911 switchboard, officials said. Officers came running in and telling people to leave the theater, Salina Jordan told the Denver Post. She said some police were carrying and dragging bodies.

Hayden Miller told KUSA-TV that he heard several shots. "Like little explosions going on and shortly after that we heard people screaming," he told the station. Hayden said at first he thought it was part of a louder movie next door. But then he saw "people hunched over leaving theater."

Officers later found the gunman near a car behind the theater. Oates said there was no evidence of any other attackers.

Holmes was a student at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver until last month, spokeswoman Jacque Montgomery said. She did not know when he started school or why he withdrew.

At least 24 people were being treated at Denver area hospitals.

"Warner Bros. and the filmmakers are deeply saddened to learn about this shocking incident. We extend our sincere sympathies to the families and loved ones of the victims at this tragic time," the studio said.

http://bcove.me/eg1t18j4

Police stepping up security

Channel 2's Ryan Young went along with DeKalb County police as they conducted security checks at area movie theaters.

DeKalb police said they are adding extra patrols Friday night in light of the shooting in Colorado.

"I use to live in Colorado Springs. Yes, that was sad that would happen and would spoil the big effect of people going out there to the movies at midnight," moviegoer Louretta Dunbar told Young.

Dunbar and her family said they couldn't wait to see the newest Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises," but not before reflecting on the shooting in Colorado.

"Pray for the families out there in Colorado," Dunbar said.

DeKalb County's Public Safety Director, William "Wiz" Miller, told Young he knew people may be concerned about their safety so he moved his team.

"As soon as I woke up and heard what happen, I assembled my team and said we got to get out and meet the mangers of our movie theaters, reassure them that DeKalb Public Safety is here for them," Miller said.

Young joined the director as he moved through DeKalb County talking with movie managers at several locations.

"Whatever courtesy we can extend them so their patrons feel safe coming to the movies tonight, we are going to give them," Miller said

Now, the police department is urging anyone to call police if they see strange activity

"(We're) going to have undercover officers tonight, extra patrol units tonight. We have off duty (officers) and they will have extra tonight," Miller said.

That Atlanta Police Department sent out a statement saying, in part, "At this time, we are not aware of any ongoing or immediate threats to movie theaters. We are in constant contact with the FBI, and if that changes we would immediately act to notify theater owners and patrons and provide extra security. We have a working relationship with private security agencies in the City of Atlanta, and will certainly assist them with any requests for extra security or patrols to ensure the safety and peace-of-mind of their patrons.

The Gwinnett County Police Department said they are also looking out for movie goes.

"Gwinnett County police will be more vigilant this weekend in making their presence known and being seen around movie theaters in the county. Officers who are on duty at theaters will also make sure patrons know they are there to keep the peace and will be watching for questionable activity," they said in a statement to Channel 2 Action News.

Cobb County also said their officers will be more diligent this weekend as people head to the movies.

"Movie theaters in Cobb County generally have a police officer of sheriff's deputy working to maintain security at the theaters. They will be working with a heightened awareness of what happened in Colorado and be on the lookout for any suspicious activity or potential copycats," they said in a statement.

http://bcove.me/j1v6hds6

 

Shooting hits home for Buckhead family

The shooting comes days before the 13th anniversary of the Buckhead Massacre, where a day trader opened fire inside two busy office buildings.

Channel 2's Craig Lucie spoke with one victim's family members, who said learning of the tragedy gave them chills.

July 29, 1999, a 44-year-old day trader tore through two office buildings on Piedmont Road killing nine people and wounding 20 others.

One of those killed was Alan Tenenbaum. It was another senseless shooting spree and one that his family hoped no one else would ever have to experience.

Thirteen years ago people referred to it as the Buckhead Massacre and Channel 2 Action News was there during the chaotic moments when police searched for the shooter.

"It makes me relive that day and what happened," said Debra Tenenbaum, Alan's wife.

With her now-26- and 24-year-old daughters by her side, Tenenbaum said she got an eerie feeling when she turned on the TV Friday morning and saw the Colorado shooting at the premier of the new Batman movie

"My son was at the premier last night," she said.

Her son was 3 and her daughters, Brittany and Megan, were 13 and 11, when their father was shot and killed.

They said there's something bigger that can be learned from these tragedies.

"A consciousness raising about mental health and about taking care of yourself. Be mindful of what others are going through," Megan Tenenbaum said. "Guns have a  purpose, and they serve a purpose to protect people, and you can't just eliminate that, and I think a really good way to get at the source is mental help and raising awareness about people going through a hard time."

The Tenenbaums' hardest times are in the past, and they hope others will learn to make the most of everyday with their friends and loved ones.

"You can see that we are still great and really strong, and you know, life goes on, and you make the best of it and to have someone as inspiring as you to look at and really makes it all move forward," Brittany Tenebaum said.

The Tenenbaum family said their hearts go out to everyone affected and they will be connected to them not just today or this week, but forever.

http://bcove.me/3fqrcxkp

 

___

The Associated Press along with Channel 2's Craig Lucie and Ryan Young contributed to this article.