Denver (Colorado), July 20 (IANS) A heavily armed gas mask-wearing gunman opened fire at the midnight premiere of the new Batman movie in suburban Denver, killing 12 people and leaving 38 wounded, authorities said.
The shooter dressed in black and wearing body armour "appeared" at the front of one of the theatres showing "The Dark Knight Rises" with a rifle and handgun, threw some type of explosive and started shooting into the packed theatre, according to various media reports citing witnesses.
The shooting unfolded inside a darkened theatre packed with Batman fans, some in costume for the movie's premiere in Aurora, about 16 km from downtown Denver, less than 10 minutes into the film, the Denver Post reported.
Screaming, panicked moviegoers scrambled to escape from the black-clad gunman, who wore a gas mask and randomly shot as he walked up the theatre's steps, witnesses cited by CNN said.
The shooter used at least four guns -- an "AK type" rifle, a shotgun and two handguns, a federal law enforcement official told CNN.
A cell phone video taken by someone at the theatre showed scores of people screaming and fleeing the building. Some had blood on their clothes.
Police initially said 14 people had died -- 10 in the theatre and four at hospitals -- but revised the toll to 12 later Friday.
Saying "such violence, such evil is senseless", President Barack Obama cancelled campaign events in Florida and declared Friday a day for prayer and reflection.
"There are going to be other days for politics. This is a day, I think, for prayers and reflection," the president told a crowd that had gathered in anticipation of a campaign rally in Fort Myers, Florida.
Obama's Republican rival Mitt Romney also put out a statement Friday "praying for the families and loved ones of the victims during this time of deep shock and immense grief".
Multiple media outlets identified the shooting suspect as 24-year-old James Holmes.
Police said his apartment appears to be booby trapped with "pretty sophisticated" explosive devices.
"We could be here for days," Police Chief Dan Oates was quoted as saying by the Denver Post.