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Weapons Recovered At Colo. Movie Theater


Let's try to get a little more insight now from Howard Pankratz. He's a veteran reporter with the Denver Post newspaper. He's been talking with law enforcement officials and he has a special insight on this because he covered another mass shooting, the shooting at Columbine High School in 1999. Mr. Pankratz, welcome to the program.

HOWARD PANKRATZ: Thank you very much.

INSKEEP: You've heard some of our reporting just now. Is there anything that you can add, any insight that you're hearing from the authorities you're talking with?

PANKRATZ: Well, you know, what I'd like to do is, we had a very good eyewitness, a gentleman by the name of James Wilbourn(ph), and he saw this man enter the theater, it was Theater 9, and Mr. Wilbourn said that the shooter was dressed in black, wearing a flak jacket and a gas mask. And once he was in the theater, he dropped a canister on the floor. Mr. Wilbourn said that the canister spewed a noxious gas and at that point the gentleman raised the gun, shotgun, and started shooting.

He probably was one of the closest people to this man as he entered the theater. What the Aurora police are now telling is that they've recovered one rifle, one handgun and a gas mask in the theater. The adult male, who's about 24, in his early 20s, offered no resistance when he was arrested.

Originally the Aurora police said there were 14 dead. They say there are now 12 confirmed dead, 10 bodies inside the crime scene. Two more people died at area hospitals. The victims were taken to at least six hospitals in the Denver area. Aurora has a huge medical campus. It's called the Anschutz campus out there. It's a hospital that was built probably about six years ago, and they probably are the best hospital in the region.

INSKEEP: I do want to ask you, Mr. Pankratz, because you covered the Columbine shooting in 1999, I don't wish to make too direct a comparison between them, such different incidences, so different in time, but tell me this part of it - how do police, how do authorities handle a situation like this? How do you go about investigating it? What do you figure out what to do?

PANKRATZ: Well, in Columbine, of course, the law enforcement officials responding set up a perimeter around the school, and they were heavily criticized for that. And of course since that time, all over the country, if you have a mass shooting, the police try to interdict, intervene, immediately. And from what we know there were - because of the movie that was showing - a fairly large number of police in the area. They immediately took action. They were taking people who had been shot away from the scene. They were telling the people who were in the theater to run, to get out of there.

And so basically since Columbine there has been a huge effort by law enforcement to intervene immediately rather than set up perimeters. So that's one big change in American law enforcement.

INSKEEP: And in this case the man is in fact in custody, and his apartment, they're trying to get into the apartment at this time.

PANKRATZ: That's correct.

INSKEEP: Mr. Pankratz, thanks very much.

PANKRATZ: You're welcome.

INSKEEP: That's Howard Pankratz of the Denver Post. Some people have heard these facts, so we apologize for that, but others are just waking up. So let's repeat again - there's been a shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, a dozen reported dead, according to police. This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.