Aurora, Colo., shooting spree: A day of tears for victims and of twists in case
By David A. Fahrenthold, Thomas Heath and Joel Achenbach, Published: July 22
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AURORA, Colo. — Sunday was a day to mourn here — and ask, fruitlessly, why.
Two days after a shooting rampage killed 12 people and wounded 58 in a movie theater, President Obama flew in to praise victims and survivors. And Colorado leaders held the first large public memorial service, asking a crowd of thousands to repeat “We will remember” after each of the 12 names.
Away from these rituals, new details emerged about the suspect, James Holmes, 24. Authorities said the gunman might have killed more if his assault rifle had not jammed. And he might have been mistaken for a SWAT officer by arriving police, had not one officer spotted something odd in his body armor.
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A law enforcement source, who is close to the investigation but not authorized to speak publicly, said something went awry in the killer’s planned assault at the theater. Police said the alleged gunman had three weapons: a Remington shotgun, a Smith & Wesson M&P assault rifle and a Glock .40-caliber handgun.
The assault rifle, which is akin to an AR-15 and is a civilian version of the military’s M-16, could fire 50 to 60 rounds per minute and is designed to hold large ammunition magazines. The source said that Holmes allegedly had obtained a 100-round drum magazine that attached to the weapon but that such large magazines are notorious for jamming.
The law enforcement official said authorities think the gunman first used the shotgun — some victims have buckshot wounds — and then began using the assault rifle, which jammed. Then he resorted to the handgun.
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Initial police accounts said he surrendered without incident to officers who found him at his car behind the theater complex. But Oates, in an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, described a more complicated scene in the minutes after the shooting. He said police arriving at the scene might have mistaken Holmes for a SWAT officer. He was allegedly dressed in black ballistic gear, including a helmet, a throat guard, a vest, leggings and gloves.
Oates said a piece of equipment in Holmes’s elaborate gear — he would not specify which piece — struck one of the responding officers as irregular. The officer questioned Holmes. Oates did not describe the exchange, only the result: Holmes was arrested.
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What happened to “color of the day”?
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