Witness Recalls Colo. Shooting Nightmare

At a suburban Denver movie theater, a gunman opened fire during a showing of the new Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises. At least 12 people were killed. Steve Inskeep talks to Dominic Bivins, who was inside the theater.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

We've been hearing, all morning, from eyewitnesses, survivors and authorities, about a shooting in Aurora, Colorado overnight. Let's try to put together what we know. It's late at night, it's the Century 16 Multiplex Cinema in Aurora, and it's the premiere of the latest of the Batman trilogy. So, lots of people there, lots of people excited. And then, according to witnesses, a man who's described as a man in black, walks into a theater where the movie is playing - walks in by an exit door, according to one eyewitness - throws some kind of explosive.

We do not know what kind, although eyewitnesses describe something that felt, to them, like teargas or pepper spray. The man, according to police, had several weapons; according to eyewitnesses, took out one of those guns - a rifle - and opened fire on the audience. And the latest count from police is that a dozen people are dead. Twelve dead and dozens are injured. Now, as he's shooting, there are people in other theaters beginning to realize that something was wrong, and one of them is a man we spoke with earlier this morning, Dominic Bivins.

Well, what happened?

DOMINIC BIVINS: Well, basically, the movie had just started up and we were just, you know, getting ready to get into the movie, and all of a sudden the emergency alarm started going off, informing us that we needed to get out of the theater immediately. And basically, we got outside to screaming people. And there was about, that I could count, 12 people injured with bullet wounds. And there was policemen running inside. There's just all kinds of screaming and it was just frantic. It was just terrible.

INSKEEP: The injured people that you saw, this out in the lobby or outside on the street?

BIVINS: It was outside in the street, mostly. I didn't really catch anybody inside the lobby, 'cause they were evacuating everybody from inside.

INSKEEP: Was there any sense of panic as people evacuated the theater? Did people even understand what was going on nearby?

BIVINS: Nobody really knew anything until we got outside and was informed by police officers that there was a gunman inside and that we just needed to stay as far back as possible. And nobody really knew exactly why the movie was stopped or anything until we got outside. And it was just - it was just a horrible experience to see.

INSKEEP: This has got to be quite a shock to have gone into this movie - I'm sure you were anticipating seeing it, as so many people were - to have this exciting moment, to be in the middle of this entertainment, and then to have everything change so abruptly and so terribly.

BIVINS: Yes, it was very horrifying to, you know, you're going to go see a movie with your family and just, you know, you expect to get some enjoyment out of it. And then all of a sudden it just stops for no reason. And then you find out that there's, you know, 15, 14 people injured outside - you don't even know why. And you're just sitting there wondering. And all of a sudden you get informed that, you know, 10 people are dead inside because of one guy out of his mind just decides to come to a movie and ruin everybody's night.

INSKEEP: Mr. Bivins, thanks very much for sharing your story with us. I appreciate it.

BIVINS: No problem.

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