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Obama pays tribute to movie massacre victims

Meanwhile, police are still trying to work their way into the suspect’s booby-trapped apartment.

A SWAT team officer stands watch near an apartment house where the suspect in a shooting at a movie theatre lived in Aurora
A SWAT team officer stands watch near an apartment house where the suspect in a shooting at a movie theatre lived in Aurora
Image: Ed Andrieski/AP/Press Association Images

THE US PRESIDENT has said that the federal government “stands ready” to do everything in its power to bring the movie massacre shooter, who killed 12 people and injured dozens more in Aurora, Colorado on Friday morning, to justice.

Calling his crimes “heinous”, Barack Obama said “we may never understand what leads anyone to terrorise their fellow human beings”.

“Such even is senseless – beyond reason,” he added. “But while we will never know fully what causes someone to take the life of another, we do know what makes that life worth living.”

He said that he and his wife will hug their girls “a little tighter” this weekend before calling on citizens to “pray and reflect” for the victims of this terrible tragedy.

As Obama was making his weekly address, the people of Aurora – named recently as one of the safest places to live in America – are trying to come to terms with the massacre at their local cinema.

Hundreds of mourners took part in a late night vigil for the victims, lighting candles, crying and hugging each other.

Investigators are yet to figure out the motivations of the shooter, who burst into the midnight showing of the latest Batman movie, opening fire on the unsuspecting cinema-goers.

The suspect, who has been named as 24-year-old James Holmes, was arrested shortly after the incident. His mother has told local media that the police ‘have the right person’.

Holmes’ apartment in Aurora is yet to be searched as it is booby-trapped with a complicated mix of devices.

Experts have been trying to gain access to Holmes’ apartment since shortly after the shootings but Aurora police chief Dan Oates has said it is a challenge to “get in there safely”.

“I’ve personally never seen anything like it,” he said. “I see an awful lot of wires, trip wires, jars full of ammunition, jars full of liquid. Some things that look like mortar rounds.”

In the two months before the shooting, Holmes allegedly purchased 6,000 rounds of ammunition online, as well as four firearms that were used in the attacks.

“My understanding is that all the weapons that he possessed he possessed legally, and all the clips that he possessed, he possessed legally, and all the ammunition he possessed, he possessed legally,” explained Oates.

Fire services are also monitoring the building, which has been evacuated a long with neighbouring properties. Firefighters are concerned about possible gases being omitted into the air.

In the latest updates from Aurora, bomb experts say their first goal is to make the area safe by removing the trip wire, which may involve a controlled detonation and fire.

Then they plan to remove items from the apartment that could explode, including about 30 shells that will be placed in sand trucks and taken to a disposal site.

Police say they don’t have a timeframe because they want to be careful and not rush.

Luring authorities into a trap?

Statements from residents living in the same building have led some media outlets to speculate that Holmes was trying to lure police into the booby-trapped apartment by playing loud music after midnight.

Kaitlyn Fonzi, a graduate student at University Hospital, said she lives in the apartment below that of the suspect.

The 20-year-old said she heard techno-like, deep-based reverberating music coming from that unit apartment late on Thursday. She went upstairs to the suspect’s place and put her hand on the door handle. She felt it was unlocked, but she didn’t know if he was there and decided not to confront him.

“I yelled out and told him I was going to call the cops and went back to my apartment,” she said.

Fonzi called police, who told her they were busy with a shooting and did not have time to respond to a noise disturbance. ”I’m concerned if I had opened the door, I would have set it off,” she said of the booby traps.

The names of the victims of the Denver shooting are now starting to emerge. Among them are promising journalist and sports reporter Jessica Ghawi, Alex Sullivan who was celebrating his 27th birthday and 23-year-old Micayla Medek.

The FBI and Homeland Security Department have advised law-enforcement officials around the US that no information about a wide-spread terror plot has been uncovered and no similar events are expected at other movie theatres. Some countries, however, have scaled back plans on how to premiére the much-anticipated Batman movie.

-Additional reporting by AP

Booby-trapped: bomb squad to try and enter suspect shooter’s apartment>

Read more of TheJournal.ie‘s coverage of the Batman shooting>

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