A gunman killed 12 people and wounded 59 at a Colorado cinema early Friday morning. Police apprehended the killer and identified him as James Eagan Holmes, 24, a former neuroscience PhD student. He armed himself with an assault rifle, a shotgun and a pistol and fired at random at moviegoers attending the midnight premiere of the new Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises".
Holmes had dyed his hair red, just like Batman's nemesis the Joker, and wore full body armour and a gas mask. Many initially thought he was part of a stunt for the movie screening. Cinemas in New York got police protection after the shooting to prevent copycat killings. The premiere in Paris was immediately cancelled.
U.S. President Barack Obama has led the mourning after the massacre, ordering flags to be lowered to half-mast. He said: "There are going to be other days for politics. This, I think, is a day for prayer and reflection." The shooting has once again reignited the debate on gun control in America.
All the weapons used in the killings were bought legally in a local gun store. The shooting brings back memories of the 1999 Columbine High School murders, just 25km from the cinema, in which 13 people lost their lives. Tragedies like this are becoming all too common but do little to get tighter gun controls enforced. Gun ownership is a right in the USA. There are an estimated 192 million firearms in the country.