Witnesses describe fearful moments during Colorado theater shooting
The moments following the mass shooting at a Colorado movie theater were chaotic and terrifying, according to eyewitnesses who were sitting in the theater.
Ten people died at the movie theater and two more died at area hospitals. Around 40 people were injured.
Witnesses say the gunman released a gas-like substance just before he opened fire, making it difficult to see inside the theater, and making the escape more difficult as well.
Jennifer Seeger was sitting in the second row with her friends when the shooter burst in.
"I thought he was just part of a prop or being theatrical that it was just part of the show, since it was the midnight premiere, I didn't know that he was seriously a bad guy. He came in and he was in full gear cause they have things in the movie like that, where they're dressed up kind of like that and I didn't know and then he threw the grenade or whatever it was of gas and it exploded and there was all of this gas, I thought that was a special effect nobody knew what to think of it and then he shot the ceiling, just straight up in the ceiling and then everybody knew it was real at that point," Seeger said.
"It was just straight chaos, everybody was starting to scream and run and then he went straight from here to here with a gun in my face, that rifle was in my face and I honestly didn't know what to think. I just instinctively jumped forward and ducked inside the middle of the aisle and just tucked in a corner.
After that he was shooting people behind me and I had gun shells falling on my head, burning my forehead. All I smelled was powder and it was really terrifying. I was telling my friends, 'just stay still, just stay still, we're going to crawl and get out of here.' So he walks up the stairs and all I hear is just gun shot after gun shot and there were women and children screaming...He was a really big guy, he was terrifying. He was wearing a gas mask and he had a Kevlar kind of suit, he looked kind of like a SWAT guy."
Seeger said the shooter, who was later identified as 24-year-old James Holmes, was shooting at random.
"People that were trying to run away, if they got up out of the aisle, if they dove or anything, he was just shooting. He didn't have an agenda; it was just anybody that was in his way. He was just going to shoot. I honestly can't tell you a time frame but it felt like forever. It was probably like 10 or 15 minutes in reality but it was the most insane thing I've ever seen. There were little kids in there getting shot, like 6-year-old kids, babies even."
Tanner Coon was another witness.
"The first time I realized what was going on was after the first few shots were fired before that I saw the canister fly across the room, and I just thought it was some prank and then I saw the first shot and I thought it was maybe a firework and three more shots were set off and I knew this was real. I knew this was definitely gunshots," he said.
"I was in that theater, he let off 40 plus rounds into the audience. It was a very traumatic. I actually went home after that and later went to Gateway to be interviewed by the police but when I was home my Mom was of course freaking out and it was very traumatic," he said.
Holmes' apartment is believed to be booby-trapped with explosives. Police are working to secure the building. Holmes is in custody.