UPDATED: While We Watched Batman, People in Denver Suburb Killed
Update: In an incredible coincidence, The San Antonio woman killed by a gunman near Denver last night, Jessica Ghawi, had been at the Toronto mall shooting in early June, where one person was killed and seven wounded, according to her blog. She said she had an "odd feeling" and left the mall moments before gunfire erupted.
Original entry: It was one of those rare moments when anticipation met reality, when the walls shook with explosions and battle cries, and we in the audience, for the briefest of moments, had shared existences. One of those quintessential slices of Americana that endure even in an age of online isolation and streams of hashtags, that we'd all shuffled into the movie theater -- like our parents and grandparents did before -- to try and reclaim some sense of community. To discover that there were others out there like us.
It was around 1:30 a.m. last night. We were in the middle of The Dark Knight Rises, and it must have been during some pitched, expository scene that dominates much of director Christopher Nolan's work. You know, when things blow up and everything gets terribly dramatic and you're not sure who you are, or where you came from -- you just know that moment, sitting, watching.
It must have been during one of those scenes last night when, in a different movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, 1,100 miles away, a gunman tapped into the carnage on the movie screen and made it live. And we in our Houston movie theater had no idea. The show continued, lurching back and forth from one apocalyptic scenario to another.
We had no idea that a man, who multiple media reports have identified as James Eagan Holmes, 24, had released a canister that emitted a hissing sound that was soon enveloped by his own gunfire. Chillingly, Holmes wore a gas mask not dissimilar to the one Bain dons in the movie. With a rifle and handgun, he sprayed bullets across the theater near Denver, killing 12 moviegoers and wounding -- some critically -- 38 more. One of the victims, Westward reports, was Jessica Ghawi. She grew up in San Antonio, and recently moved to Denver her family told KENS 5 News.
This was Denver's second mass shooting in the last 15 years. In 1999, two students shot and killed 12 students and a teacher at Columbine High School in the suburb of Littleton, which is also near Denver.
After Holmes was arrested by police, he told authorities he had explosives in his apartment, but it has been exceedingly difficult to get inside. "His apartment is booby-trapped," Aurora Police Chief Daniel Oates told Reuters. "We are trying to determine how to disarm the flammable or explosive material. We could be here for hours or days. The pictures are fairly disturbing. It looks very sophisticated, how it's booby-trapped. It could be a very long wait."
In Houston last night, as we left the theater, everyone giggled and snickered, together dissecting what we had just seen. The air vibrated with excitement -- and exhaustion. It was, after all, 3 a.m. It was one of those moments when everyone seemed to be riding the same wave, when differences didn't matter. And we had no idea that 1,100 miles away, an entirely different set of moviegoers were in the midst of their own shared experience -- but, for them, it was tragedy.