Just over a year after the tragic mass shooting in Norway which left 77 children dead, America has its own episode of senseless mass killing and violence: overnight, a mass shooting at a Aurora, CO movie theater during a Dark Knight screening has left at least 14 dead and 50 injured in one of America's most horrific mass execution-style events in recent history. As of right now, the FBI has said it does not believe the tragedy to be terrorism related.
An explaintion of what happened together with cell phone video coverage:
A masked gunman killed 14 people at a midnight showing of the new Batman movie in a suburb of Denver early on Friday, sparking pandemonium when he hurled a teargas canister into the auditorium and opened fire on moviegoers.
Fifty others including children were wounded in the attack on the showing of "The Dark Knight Rises" in a mall in the Aurora suburb, some of whom were treated for the effects of tear gas, hospital officials said.
"This is a horrific event," Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates told a news conference, adding that a suspect was taken into custody in the parking lot behind the theater.
Police said the Aurora gunman had appeared at the front of the theater during the movie and released a canister which let out a hissing sound at the theater before gunfire erupted.
Dozens of police were at the scene, and the authorities evacuated the area while they checked for any explosive devices. They said there was no evidence of a second gunman.
Wendy Post, who was waiting to be reunited with her daughter at a local high school following the shooting, said her daughter told her the shooting erupted just minutes after the film began.
"She saw the exit door open and something was thrown across the screen, and then shooting started," she told local NBC affiliate 9News television. "It was chaos."
President Barack Obama, who was notified of the shooting on Friday morning by his homeland security adviser, John Brennan, urged Americans to "stand together" with the people of Aurora in the hours and days to come.
"Michelle and I are shocked and saddened by the horrific and tragic shooting in Colorado. Federal and local law enforcement are still responding, and my administration will do everything that we can to support the people of Aurora in this extraordinarily difficult time," Obama said in a statement.
"As we do when confronted by moments of darkness and challenge, we must now come together as one American family," he added.
Colorado has suffered mass killings in the past. In 1999, two students opened fire at Columbine High School in the suburb of Littleton, near Denver, killing 12 students and a teacher.
Sky News provides eye-witness summaries:
Witnesses in the cinema when the shooting started describe seeing a flash of light and everyone diving for cover.
:: Paul Otermat crawled out of the cinema with his girlfriend
"Me and my girlfriend were sitting on the left-hand side of the entrance and front right was an emergency exit and a man walked through there.
"He came in wearing a black jacket. I thought it was some sort of publicity stunt for a second but then he threw tear gas over the crowd directly behind where we were. Then he started firing shots to the crowd.
"My girlfriend and I ducked down and immediately dragged ourselves out of the theatre to a point where we were sure we were out.
"We ran through the lobby and heard more shots and we ran out into he parking lot and drove off. By the time we were leaving the cops were already on the scene, like six cops before we got completely out, just flying in.
"It was just really like, as traumatic as it was it was incredibly weird. There were children at that show. It was really crazy.
"He just walked in pretty casually, threw the tear gas, then he just started firing. After the first shot lit up the room we dived to the floor. We waited until there was a lull in the firing and crawled our way out of there.
"I thought it was a shotgun at first, others through it was a rifle, we really don’t know. All we saw was the flash of light and the guy walking.
"We only saw the one guy. As soon as the shots started, we didn’t stick around. Our people just dropped to the floor and a lot of people made a mad dash to the exit."
:: Alex Molano told Denver's 9 News how he saw a police officer carrying a little girl who wasn't moving
"I don’t want to upset anyone by anything I say but I don’t think anyone should be kept in the dark by what happened. I spoke to a young woman who was in theatre Nine and what she described sounded like madness.
"She described how a man six feet tall kicked through the door wearing a riot helmet and a bullet proof vest and he was completely covered in black and wearing goggles.
"She saw he had a shotgun and her and her boyfriend dropped to the floor and started to crawl to get away. They got up and went through the emergency exit, she turned around and saw the man slowly making his way up the stairs and just firing at people, just picking random people.
"I saw four, maybe five people wounded who were limping and slightly bloody. I saw a girl covered in blood but didn’t have any wounds on here. It made me think the worst.
"I honestly don’t know whose little girl it was, but a cop came walking through the front door holding a little girl in his arms and she wasn’t moving.
"I’d heard another witness in my theatre, she was on the phone and the really messed up part for me was that she said she saw bullet holes in the little girl’s back.
"I honestly can’t think of any person who would intentionally hurt a little girl so it makes me think she got caught in the crossfire."
:: James Cameron saw a mother holding a little girl who had been shot in the back
"By the sound of it, it sounded like there could have been three or four people in the shooting. There were definitely multiple calibres going off.
"There was a child struck, a little baby girl was struck in her back and that was something that’s going to stay with me for the rest of my life. You can never prepare yourself for seeing a mother holding her child. That’s the one thing that sticks in my mind.
"I’m outside the hospital now, people are walking in here and the waiting room is full. It’s crazy, I’m still feeling the effects of that gas. It’s horrible, it’s like something out of a sci-fi movie.
"It was crazy; it was like law enforcement just fell out of the sky. One minute I’m helping my friend, the next I’m yelling for help and then there was police everywhere, they responded unbelievably."
:: Male witness: 'I thought it was part of the movie'
"At first I thought it was part of the movie and that the speakers were extremely loud. Then I saw the smoke behind me and it didn’t seem right
"I heard loud noises and popping, first you think it’s part of the movie then you look behind and, ‘that’s just not part of the movie’.
"People started rushing out and the cops were telling us to move down the stars. As I got out to the parking lot I didn’t think it was that bad. I thought it was serious, but then you see injured people coming out the theatre."