Return to Transcripts main page


Movie Theater Massacre

Aired July 20, 2012 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. Horrifying new details and witness accounts of a movie theater massacre.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was just shooting people left and right. Shooting little kids, you know like 6-year-old kids, 3-year-old kids -- and moms.


BLITZER: A 24-year-old grad student in custody. The motive, a mystery. The deadly rampage in a Denver suburb stuns and sickens the nation. This hour, live reports from Colorado, including from the suspect's apartment where he left dangerous booby traps behind.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: You can still see the shock, the horror in the faces of people who survived the bloodbath in a Colorado movie theater. It's being called the largest mass shooting ever in the United States.

Kate Bolduan is here in THE SITUATION ROOM. She's got new details on the breaking news story.

Kate, awful, awful story. You can't say it enough, how awful this story is. But I want to bring everyone up to date on kind of the details we have right now coming into THE SITUATION ROOM.

Police now say 71 people were shot in Aurora, Colorado, during the midnight premiere of the new Batman movie; 12 of them are dead; 59 people are wounded, including a 4-month-old baby. Cell phone video shows panicked moviegoers running, screaming, you can see it there, desperate to get out of that theater alive.

The suspect has been identified as 24-year-old James Holmes of Aurora, Colorado. A law enforcement source tells CNN Holmes bought a ticket and walked in to the Aurora movie theater, then snuck out an exit door and left it propped open. He allegedly then gathered up his weapons and then walked back in through that same door. Another source says Holmes had covered his hair red and told police he was the Joker. Holmes was arrested near his car in the back of the theater. Authorities say he had four guns, an assault rifle, a shotgun and two handguns which were all bought legally and he appeared dressed for battle.


DAN OATES, AURORA, COLORADO, POLICE CHIEF: The suspect was dressed all in black. He was wearing a ballistic helmet, a tactical ballistic vest, ballistic leggings, a throat protector and a groin protector, and a gas mask.


BOLDUAN: Just amazing.

The chief of police says the suspect left his apartment heavily booby-trapped with tripwires connecting to chemical and incendiary devices. He says it could take days for investigators to work through the apartment safely.

Residents of that building and five others in the area have been evacuated. It's just amazing, Wolf. It's not only what's going on at the theater. But now they are dealing with this really unfolding situation at his apartment still.

BLITZER: And it could take days.

BOLDUAN: That's what the police chief said.

BLITZER: The police chief said that. Stand by.

The suspect, James Holmes, surrendered without a fight. But as Kate just mentioned, he left deadly traps for police at his apartment. Investigators are trying to get in, they're trying to search for clues without setting off any kind of explosion.

CNN's Kyung Lah is over there and she's at the scene outside the apartment complex.

Set the scene for us, Kyung. What's going on now?

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we're seeing is authorities moving very cautiously.

And the reason why is as law enforcement tells CNN there is a lot of concern about what's inside that apartment, that as a law enforcement source says that the booby trap was set on a timer. And that's something we're hearing from people who live in the neighborhood as well.

We spoke to a woman who lives directly below the suspect. She was in bed about to go to sleep when at midnight suddenly some very loud music came on in the apartment. Here's what she told us.


KAITLYN FONZI, NEIGHBOR OF SUSPECT: It suddenly came on, yes, like somebody started up a party, which was so unusual because we didn't hear people up there.

QUESTION: He wasn't -- he couldn't have been there. Do you think it was set on a timer?

FONZI: I do believe think it was set on a timer, especially considering the events that I now know transpired in that amount of time.


LAH: And what she did was she called the police when the loud music came on but the police couldn't respond because they were responding to all the crisis at the theater.

But the suspicion now is that that loud music was set, Wolf, so that the first-responders would be injured when they went into that apartment. That's why we're seeing investigators being so careful as they move forward to look what is left inside that suspect's apartment, Wolf.

BLITZER: Enough people have been killed and injured already. We don't want anymore first-responders, police officers and others to be injured, certainly not killed.

You also had a chance to speak with a neighbor who says he knew James Holmes. Is that right, Kyung?

LAH: A chilling tale, in fact, Wolf, because he actually had a beer with the suspect on Tuesday.

He says he saw him as a college student. He saw him walking around. They went into a bar. He was sitting inside the bar. He saw him come in and they had a beer together. And he says it is -- when he saw his picture come on the television this morning, he could not believe what he was seeing, that this was someone he actually had a drink with. Here's what he told us.


JACKIE MITCHELL, SUSPECT'S NEIGHBOR: And to see this and knowing this guy is down the street at the bar with me drinking beer and he lives right here and I'm on the next block, with explosives, that's insane.


LAH: So again, an active scene here, Wolf. Investigators moving very cautiously as they are trying to work their way inside the apartment. We're not given any timeline on how long it's going to be before all of this is contained.

BLITZER: Kyung Lah on the scene at that apartment complex for us. Thank you.

Let's go elsewhere in Aurora, Colorado, right now.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is outside the movie theater where this massacre happened.

What's the latest there, Ed?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, here, law enforcement authorities continue to work inside the movie theater where they haven't even been able to remove the bodies of the victims that were shot last night.

They say that they are still trying to collect all the forensic and ballistic evidence they possibly can. As you can imagine, it's a gruesome crime scene. But we have learned here in the last few minutes some more details as Just how 24-year-old James Holmes moved through the movie theater last night.

We are told by a law enforcement source that it is believed that James Holmes bought a ticket and actually at one point walked into the theater with the rest of the crowd, but at some point, slipped out that exit door just to the right of the movie screen and left it propped open, went to his car, which was parked in the back of the theater, gathered up his gear.

He decked himself out in all of that ballistic gear you heard authorities describe, grabbed the weapons, a handgun, a rifle, an assault rifle as well, and then came back into the theater and launched those two canisters which had some sort of irritant, perhaps some sort of tear gas.

And that is what launched this attack. And then the gunfire erupted. We're also told by a law enforcement source that it is believed that he had a -- what's called a drum magazine connected to the assault rifle. And that would have the ability to carry some 100 rounds of ammunition, obviously giving him much more firepower inside that movie theater.

Law enforcement officials have been going to various locations throughout the Denver area where these guns were purchased and we're told by a law enforcement source that the guns were purchased legally during the last six months -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And you also learned -- and you broke the news -- that from a law enforcement source, Ed, that he supposedly, the suspect, had dyed his hair red and told police he was -- quote -- "the Joker," obviously, a character in those Batman films?

LAVANDERA: Yes, that is the information that we have been getting from various sources that we have been talking to throughout the day.

And it is clear that at some level, James Holmes appears to be communicating or talking to law enforcement, because it was from what we're told James Holmes who also told authorities his apartment had been booby-trapped. But when we asked the police chief here in Aurora just to what extent he is cooperating, he really wouldn't get into many details as to just how much information and how much talking James Holmes is doing.

Of course, what everybody wants to know is the motive behind this attack. What would make him want to do this to all these poor innocent people, unsuspecting and having a good time watching the premiere of the Batman movie? We still just don't have any information as to what might have been the motive in this case.

BLITZER: The police chief told us he's not going to speculate, not give any information about motivation, at least not yet.

Ed Lavandera, thanks very much.

They haven't released the mug shot, I should also point out, yet either.

Let's bring in CNN's Tom Foreman to piece together how all of this unfolded minute by minute -- Tom.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Ed's reporting there is very critical to what we're understanding here.

This is what law enforcement sources now suggest happened during this midnight movie. They believe that this suspect actually came into the theater with the ticket, as Ed found out, went through an exit door to the right of the screen, and then outside, he geared up for the attack and then came back inside to theater number nine.

Approximately 12:37, 12:38, that's when they say a canister was tossed in through this door. Look at this. Our animation will show it like this. It may have been right before this guy. Nonetheless, it began hissing and spraying something that seemed to be like tear gas or a pepper spray into the room.

A man in black now comes in behind it. Again, we believe now that he came through the theater with a ticket, went out, according to law enforcement, put all this gear on and then came back in. He was wearing a bulletproof vest and a gas mask, these people say, and they said he shot into the ceiling first and then he began firing into the crowd.

Police will later say that what he had at the time he was doing all of this was an AR-15 assault rifle over here, a Remington shotgun and that he had a Glock .40-caliber handgun. Police say he was firing a lot of rounds very, very fast.

Now, 12:39, the first calls start showing up and police officers start racing to the scene. What they find is victims staggering out through the lobby. They surround the place, calling for more officers and ambulances. They know it's a huge event.

At 12:42, some of the witnesses say the gunman is still shooting inside. Officers urgently call for gas masks so that they can enter theater number nine because they can smell all this gas coming out. At 12:46, at some point here, some of the witnesses say that the shooter simply stops shooting up here and walks out the way that he came out -- the way that he came in and apparently he went directly toward his car, which was parked outside.

And that's where the police grabbed him. Police say he offered no resistance and still had two guns on him having left one back in the theater. And they say they found another one of the guns inside of his car, another handgun.

In addition to the vest, they also say, he was wearing a ballistic throat protector and a groin protector and black tactical gloves. Simultaneously, officers flood into that theater nine, finding seven people there who are so injured that they simply could not run away in any fashion.

They found other people there who were hurt so much they did not dare to move them. And they described tremendous injuries. You listen to the police and the witnesses, people shot in the arms and the heads and the legs, the bodies. Some bullets even appear to have penetrated the walls of the theater and hit people in the next cinemas.

12:55, the ambulances are so overwhelmed with the number of people here that police officers are loading up critically ill people and taking them to hospitals. And, of course, they are closing in on the apartment of that suspect, where as Kyung Lah reported earlier, they are still trying to deal with all that might be left inside.

Wolf, an extraordinary number of events all happening in the space of less than 20 minutes in the middle of the night.

BLITZER: According -- as you heard Ed Lavandera, his reporting, we now know how the suspect in this particular case actually got into that theater with all those weapons and all of that gear.

Obviously, obviously, they are going to have to learn lessons from what has just happened, movie theaters all over the United States, dare I say all over the world as well.

Tom Foreman, excellent report for us. Thank you.

For the people in that movie theater, every second of the shooting felt like a lifetime. We're going to talk to an eyewitness, someone who was inside watching that Batman film when it all went down.

We're also going to go to the suspect's hometown of San Diego, California, where he went to high school, where his family is now asking for privacy.

And we're also learning more about the victims, including an aspiring sports reporter, only 24 years old, who survived another shooting only last month, but not this one.


BLITZER: President Obama is calling the Colorado shooting evil and senseless.

He canceled all campaign events in Florida today and immediately returned to the White House. But, first, he phoned the mayor of Aurora, Colorado. He shared his feelings about the massacre earlier in the day with the nation.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm sure that many of you who are parents here had the same reaction that I did when I heard this news. My daughters go to the movies. What if Malia and Sasha had been at the theater, as so many of our kids do every day?

Michelle and I will be fortunate enough to hug our girls a little tighter tonight. And I am sure you will do the same with your children.

But for those parents who may not be so lucky, we have to embrace them and let them know we will be there for them as a nation.


BLITZER: The Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, also expressed his sympathy for the victims' families.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I stand before you today, not as a man running for office, but as a father and grandfather, a husband and American. This is a time for each of us to look into our hearts and remember how much we love one another, and how much we love and how much we care for our great country.


BLITZER: Romney also canceled his campaign events in New Hampshire as well, suspending all political activity on this horrendous, horrendous day.

The suspected shooter, 24-year-old James Holmes, is originally from San Diego. His family still lives there. They released a statement saying their heart goes out to the victims, but they are also asking for privacy.

We have got some more eyewitness reaction to what happened in this movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, shortly after midnight.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Twenty or 30 minutes into the movie, and all you hear -- first, you smell smoke. Everybody thought it was fireworks or something like that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When it got to a shooting scene in the movie, and at the same time, there were the gunshots, the real ones. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You just see people start dropping. And the gunshots are constant. I heard at least 20 to 30 rounds within that minute or two. There was people bleeding. People, obviously, may have been actually dead and everything. And we just ran up out of there. There was just chaos everywhere.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A cop came walking through the little -- through the door holding a little girl in his arms and she wasn't -- she wasn't moving.

I had heard another witness who was in my theater, someone else that I was talking to before the movie, we were waiting in line for it, she was on the phone. And the really messed-up part for me was she told whoever she was talking to that she saw bullet holes in the little girl's back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were at least four or five individuals that I saw that were actually bleeding from different areas. One person was shot in the back, in the lower buttocks area. One person was in the arm, another in the leg.

It was pretty traumatic. I took about five or 10 minutes helping a lady get blood off of her face and her body. She was covered in it because apparently her boyfriend had sustained injuries in the theater.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was this one guy who was on all fours crawling. There was this girl spitting up blood. There were bullet holes in some people's backs, some people's arms. There was this one guy who was stripped down to like just his boxers. It looked like he had been like shot in the back or something. It was crazy.


BLITZER: Yes, so painful, because all of us have been to movie theaters. We have all been in the -- thank God, we haven't been in this situation, but we know. You are watching a movie, you feel safe. You feel secure. And then all of a sudden something like this happens.

BOLDUAN: And you are minding your business. You are there to see the movie. You are minding your business.

Maybe someone is walking around trying to look for their -- it's just -- it's a safe place. It gets dark. You are waiting for the movie. It was 15 minutes in and then this to unfold. Those eyewitness accounts are just so tough to listen to, but so amazing.

The heroism that some people actually showed in there, it's absolutely amazing stuff.

Obviously, much more on this to come, but, coming up next, we're learning more about the suspect. He went to high school in San Diego. His family still lives there. We're going there live next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: The suspected movie theater shooter, 24-year-old James Holmes, is originally from San Diego. His family still lives there. They have released a statement saying their heart goes out to the victims, but they are asking for privacy.

Casey Wian is outside the family home in San Diego.

What's going on over there, Casey?

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I have to be honest with you, Wolf. We're not doing that good a job of giving the family the privacy they have requested.

Of course, the interest in this family and this suspect very understandable. Behind me, you can see the home where James Holmes' mother and father still live. His mother is holed up, if you will, inside that house, has been all day. The father was escorted by San Diego police officers out of this area earlier today, apparently on his way to Colorado.

This is a neighborhood called Rancho Penasquitos, north of San Diego, where neighbors say people move because of the quality of the schools. It's a very nice suburban, upper-middle-class, if you will, neighborhood.

We spoke with some of those neighbors, including a man named Tom Mai, who lives right next door to the Holmes family. He said that James Holmes, when he was in high school and living here, was a nice kid and didn't have any rowdy friends.


TOM MAI, NEIGHBOR: Very handsome guy, yes.

QUESTION: Clean-cut?

MAI: Yes, clean-cut, quiet, like, responsible, helping their family out and study hard.


WIAN: We also spoke with another neighbor named Julie Adams. She showed us a high school yearbook that had pictures of Holmes. And it was pictures alongside her son. They were both on the same soccer team together, same junior varsity soccer team back in 2004.

Of course, she was very surprised, her son very surprised to hear the news of this shooting. Here's what she had to say.


JULIE ADAMS, NEIGHBOR: I'm thankful that he wasn't living here at the time, because there were lots of kids that I knew that were at the local movie theater right here. So it could happen anywhere.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WIAN: As you can imagine, law enforcement officers, local police officers, plainclothes investigators have been in and out of this house all day.

The family continues to stay inside. Obviously, way too early to speculate on any possible motive. We will pass along, though, one bit of information from the neighborhood, Mr. Mai telling us that, after Mr. Holmes completed some graduate work in college, he was upset for a time, according to his mother, that he was unable to find a job.

Of course, a lot of people during this time have been having trouble finding a job. And we do understand that he was employed at the time he was living in Colorado. Of course, the family releasing a statement saying their hearts go out to everyone involved in this tragedy. And they are cooperating with law enforcement both here and in Colorado -- Wolf.

BLITZER: He graduated with the highest honors from the University of California, Riverside, in neuroscience, and was working on a Ph.D. at the University of Colorado in neurosciences before he dropped out, 24-year-old James Holmes.

All right, Casey, thanks very much.

Our own Anderson Cooper now is on the scene. We will be speaking with him. He's in Aurora, Colorado.

The horrific shooting is helping to reignite the debate over gun control in the United States. Former presidential candidates Newt Gingrich and the Reverend Jesse Jackson, they are both standing by. We will talk about what politicians should and shouldn't be doing in the aftermath of this tragedy.


BLITZER: We're following the breaking news here in THE SITUATION ROOM tonight. A movie theater massacre in a Denver suburb. We're going to talk about it with the former presidential candidates, Newt Gingrich and the Reverend Jesse Jackson in a moment. They've got some serious thoughts on this subject.

But first, Kate is going to walk us through what happened.

BOLDUAN: What happened. And to remind all of our viewers. there's been so many developments here. A man in a gas mask stormed into a crowded theater during a midnight showing of the new "Batman" movie. He threw a canister of tear gas and opened fire.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fifteen. I've got seven down in theater nine. Seven down!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Copy. We'll notify fire. Seven down in theater nine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get me some officers in nine so we can get the movable victims out.


BOLDUAN: The frantic call only paints part of the picture here. Seventy-one people had been shot. Twelve people are how dead. You can see the panic on people's faces as they just run through the theater. Some of them just covered with blood.

The suspected shooter, 24-year-old James Eagan Holmes, was arrested in the parking lot shortly after. Police found three weapons in his car. Another gun was found in the theater. A senior law enforcement official tells CNN they were all bought legally. It's reinvigorating the gun control battle -- the gun control debate, rather, and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants action. Listen here.


MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, NEW YORK CITY: There are so many murders with guns every day. It's just got to stop. And instead of these -- the two people, President Obama and governor Romney, talking in broad things about they want to make the world a better place, OK. Tell us how. And this is a real problem.


BLITZER: We're joined now by the Reverend Jesse Jackson. He's the president of the Rainbow Push Coalition. And the former Republican presidential candidate, former speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich. Gentlemen, thanks...

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

BLITZER: ... to both of you for coming on this horrendous day. Do you agree with Michael Bloomberg that both the president and Mitt Romney have got to start dealing with this issue of gun control?

REV. JESSE JACKSON, RAINBOW PUSH COALITION: We must move from prayer and condolences to policy. This is not just an incident. This is a pattern. It's Aurora today. It's Columbine. It's Arizona. Thirty-thousand Americans are killed a year from gunfire. About 100,000...

BLITZER: You've had serious problems in Chicago where you live.

JACKSON: Indeed. About 100,000 injured. We must start with reviving the ban on assault weapons. It's one thing to want to have a gun in your house to protect you from a robber or maybe a gun to go hunting. Who needs semiautomatic weapons on the streets, for which there is no defense?


BLITZER: Let me ask the speaker.

NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Well, I mean, first of all, it was illegal in Chicago for 28 years to have a handgun. The Supreme Court only threw it out in 2011. There were 25 people shot in one May day this year.

Now if gun control worked -- and Mayor Bloomberg is in the same boat. They have gun control in New York. It just doesn't work.

The most effective system we've had for stopping murder was Rudy Giuliani, who imposed a model of policing that brought down murder rates in New York by 75 percent. And it starts with focusing on the criminal.

The president was right today. What we are watching tonight is the results of an evil act. Evil acts should be punished decisively, immediately, swiftly. People should learn a civic lesson that we're not going to tolerate certain things. This is unacceptable in civilized society. He shouldn't be tied up with lawyers for ten years and psychiatrists for ten years. This person engaged in an evil act.

JACKSON: I think we're looking at domestic terrorism. It's not just this guy who's evil and apparently also sick. The guy in Columbine, the kids in Columbine. The people in Arizona.

BLITZER: Or Virginia Tech.

JACKSON: Or Virginia -- or (UNINTELLIGIBLE) University. A shot in the White House, 11/11/11. An AK-47 shot the window of the White House. And so we're now engulfed by the saturation of guns. Either we have gun control or gun flow. A gun flow does not make us more secure.

BOLDUAN: And Mr. Speaker, what do you think? Do you think this -- this debate comes up every time we have -- there is a horrific act that happens. But do you think this young man, 24 years old, do you think he should have been able to get an assault rifle, two handguns, another gun and...

GINGRICH: He did not get a true assault rifle, because that's illegal. So if he has a legal weapon, it's not a true assault rifle, because it's illegal in the United States to get -- you know, when you see film of various drug dealers using weapons that are submachine guns, those are illegal weapons by definition.

BLITZER: Very sophisticated, whatever it was. It killed -- it killed a lot of people, and 71 people were shot.

GINGRICH: Seventy-one people were shot. And I think the correct answer is to deal directly and immediately with this person so decisively that other people learn a lesson. This is not -- I mean, look what's happening in Arizona, where this guy is going to be, you know, interviewed and inspected and thought about and tried and lawyered forever.

BLITZER: You mean the Gabby Gifford's...

GINGRICH: Congresswoman Gifford. JACKSON: This horror (ph) should not a trophy for a bad policy. So you lock up and arrest a very sick man. What about the 71 people who were shot? His capacity to shoot 71 people.

We lost less than 6,000 soldiers in Iraq in ten years, but in the streets of our country, the -- it's much greater. Suicide rate among soldiers, higher than the number lost in combat. These acts with the weapons are manic depressives.

BLITZER: I can't tell you, Mr. Speaker, how many e-mails and tweets I got today from our viewers l over the world. And we're being seen right now live around the world. And they say to me, "Why is it in the United States, anybody who doesn't have a criminal background can just go out and buy sophisticated weapons like this?" They don't understand our system here.

GINGRICH: But there's a very specific practical reason. It's called the Second Amendment. And it was put into law very deliberately. In fact, Washington actually signed a law requiring every adult male to have a rifle. And the reason why...

JACKSON: Washington never saw an assault weapon. Washington never saw a Glock, for example. And it's almost like a misappropriation of the Second Amendment. To hunt, you use guns to hunt; the militia when you're under attack. I use guns to hunt rabbit and deer. But these -- every police chief in America would say get these weapons off the street.


JACKSON: And whether you're in the theater or the classroom, there is no defense against them.

GINGRICH: The vast majority of the use of guns is pistols. It's not assault weapons. The vast majority is illegal already. The act itself is illegal. The person, you go to a city that has gun control, the District of Columbia. Doesn't mean they don't have gun violence. Go to New York City, Mayor Bloomberg.

BLITZER: So you wouldn't change any of the laws right now?

GINGRICH: I would enforce the laws. I would be very aggressive in going after people who break the law. I would eliminate most of the appeal process, most of the kindness of -- people need to see that an evil act is met with an immediate...

BLITZER: All right.

GINGRICH: ... response by the society.

JACKSON: Wolf, less than 6,000 killed in Iraq in ten years, and 30,000 killed a year at home. It suggests whatever is legal is bad law.

BLITZER: Obviously, something needs to be fixed. And we've had a good debate. We're going to definitely continue this conversation down the road.

We're going to be speaking with Anderson Cooper. He's in Aurora right now. Want to talk to him a bit before -- quickly before I let you go, Reverend Jackson.

Your son, Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. We've heard he had mood disorder. He's been recovering. I don't exactly know what that means. How is he doing? What's wrong?

JACKSON: Let me say, as a father, he's going through an awful lot of pain. When we found out about six weeks ago, we got him into medical attention, which he is getting. And I feel now that he is regaining his strength slowly, so I ask people to pray for him and for our family.

BOLDUAN: Will he be back in Congress? Will he be back in Washington?

JACKSON: There's no timetable for regaining his strength but certainly he is, I think -- right now at this point, he's -- he's coming back.

BLITZER: Please wish him a speedy recovery. Our best wishes. I think I speak for all of all of us, all of our viewers. We hope he comes back strong, robust, and whatever he's going through -- and we're not exactly sure -- but whatever he's going through, that he comes out of this strong.

JACKSON: Thank you so much.

BLITZER: Thank you so much. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Thanks, as usual, for coming in, as well.

Newt Gingrich, by the way, is out with a new book: "No Taxation by Misrepresentation: Rejecting the Dishonest Obama Care Tax." We're going to have him back. We're going to be speaking about that, but not on this day.

We're also -- we will definitely have you back, as well. Both of you will be back. But not on this day. We're not going to talk about that.

We're also learning new details about the victims of the massacre, including a young, aspiring sportscaster. Only 24 years old. Look at her. This is heartbreaking. Her mother speaks out about the last time she heard from her. Stand by. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're nailing it. I'm telling you, so far so good.

JESSICA GHAWI, SHOOTING VICTIM: I know. I'm doing such a great job. This is full fail. OK. Let's start with...



BLITZER: The suspect in this case, the alleged shooter James Holmes was widely described as wearing a gas mask when he came into that movie theater. And we now have a picture of the gas mask. This is the -- the teargas canisters that were thrown, but this was the gas mask that protected him from the tear gas, we are told. That just coming in to THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

CNN's Anderson Cooper is now in Aurora, Colorado, watching what's going on. You're going to be doing "AC 360" live tonight from there. Anderson, set the scene a little bit for us. What have you seen? What's going on?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, obviously, people are still just, you know, shocked, stunned here. This is a state, a country, really, in mourning at this time.

Still so many questions remain to be answered about the motives of this young man, the history of this young man. As you said, we're learning more about him, about withdrawing from his Ph.D. program at the University of Colorado. He was in the process of doing that.

But we're at the movie theater, Wolf. About four miles away from where we are right now is the home of this -- this young man. Police are there now. It is a -- it is a crime scene. They are being very careful about trying to enter his apartment because of a variety of devices which are believed to be inside the apartment. They are taking this very carefully, very slowly. It may be even a matter of days before they're really able to fully enter that apartment and find out more of what evidence may be -- may be inside there.

The suspect is going to be appearing in court on Monday. That's believed to be the first time we will actually see him in court. We have yet to see his mug shot, Wolf.

But so many questions, and just so many people still just really in shock in this state, Wolf. And, obviously, we're going to be having a lot more tonight at 8 p.m. and also again live at 10 p.m. from the scene.

BLITZER: You know, it's really amazing, Anderson, when you think about it. Obviously, a very intelligent guy. Graduated with the highest honors from the University of California, Riverside, in neuroscience, working on a Ph.D. at the University of Colorado.

But now we've learned -- Ray Kelly, the New York City Police Commissioner first revealed it, we've confirmed it from another law enforcement source, our own Ed Lavandera who is on the scene -- that he supposedly had dyed his hair red. And he told the police he was, quote, The Joker, a character in these Batman film.

And, you know, what, if anything that means, I don't know. But we do know, Anderson...


BLITZER: ... that 71 people were shot and 12 of them are dead.

COOPER: Well, also we know that he's been purchasing these weapons over the last several months from a variety of stores in Colorado and the Denver area. So the question, of course, is has he been planning this all along for this particular -- this particular day, the opening of the movie "Batman." As you said, according to police sources, he had dyed his hair red, although his face apparently wasn't all that visible because of the gas mask. As you know, when you're wearing a gas mask, you don't see much of your face.

And obviously, also, inside a darkened theater, when you're wearing a gas mask and if there's tear gas in the air or some kind of incendiary device which there was said to be, his visibility was probably limited, as well. Whether or not that contributed to the low number of fatalities out of the total number of people who were wounded, a shocking number of people wounded. Seventy-one people in all shot. But 12 people known dead. Ten actually inside the theater. Two as of this time who died later at the hospital.

And we're still trying to find out the condition of a lot of the other people, Wolf, who were shot.

BLITZER: Anderson, we'll have special live programming at 8 p.m. Eastern here on CNN, "AC 360." Also live at 10 p.m. Eastern, "AC 360." We'll be watching, Anderson. Thanks for doing this. Thanks for being in Aurora, Colorado.

Obviously, a very, very dangerous situation over at the apartment of the Colorado shooting suspect. It's filled with booby traps. A bomb expert is standing by live. He's going to help us better understand what police are facing right now.


BLITZER: All right. This just coming into THE SITUATION ROOM, thanks to Reuters. They have a story that's moving now, saying the apartment where the suspect lived apparently has been so extensively booby-trapped that police have now determined they cannot safely defuse the devices. This according to a police source. They say the police now plan to detonate the devices using a robot. This according to Reuters.

We're joined now by Kevin Barry, the former bomb squad lead investigator for the New York City Police Department.

Mr. Barry, thanks very much for coming in. But what do you make of this, that they're going to have to basically use a robot to detonate these bombs, apparently, in this apartment?

KEVIN BARRY, FORMER BOMB SQUAD LEAD INVESTIGATOR, NYPD: It's the safest way to go at this point.

BLITZER: If you were in charge of this investigation, you would do the same thing? They're basically going to blow up the apartment, I take it, assuming -- we have no idea how lethal these weapons are?

BARRY: It's the safest way to go. Not putting their technicians in danger. To recover evidence and put someone's life at risk is not a good operational procedure.

BLITZER: All right. Kate Bolduan is here. She's got a question for you as well, Mr. Barry.

BOLDUAN: Mr. Barry, I want -- I want to play some sound that we have from the Aurora police chief, Dan Oates. He described kind of the suspect's house earlier today. Take a listen to this, and I'll ask you a question.


CHIEF DAN OATES, AURORA, COLORADO, POLICE: Our investigation determined that his apartment is booby-trapped with various incendiary and chemical devices and apparent trip wires, so we have an active and difficult scene there. It may be resolved in hours or days. We simply don't know how we're going to handle that.


BOLDUAN: So when you hear a situation like this, the police chief even acknowledged for the layman he didn't even know, really, how they were going to deal with this situation.

Take us into the mind of kind a bomb squad member. What are they thinking about? What are they going through? What are all the considerations that you really need to take into account when you're dealing with such an unsecure situation?

BARRY: They've got to take into consideration, could it be booby-trapped with the door being opened, a pressure switch, somebody stepping on something, a trip wire being pulled to fire a device and function it, or possibly is it passive infrared, a motion detector?

There are reports of bottles of liquid. Using a dynamic entry with flammables there could cause a secondary fire as a result of the dynamic entry, so they have got a very difficult task in front of them.

BLITZER: You know, it's another amazing detail. I've never heard this before, but apparently, according to a law-enforcement source that our reporters have talked to, this suspect left really loud blaring techno music in the apartment before he left to go see the Batman film. And if someone would have complained, if someone would have tried to get into the apartment to shut down the music, which was really loud and annoying, the booby-trap would have been alerted, would have gone off, and who knows if another person or persons might have been killed? Have you ever heard anything like this before, in all your years as a police investigator?

BARRY: Yes, I have, and it was a diversion. It's a red herring. Trying to pull them in, thinking it was strictly a noise complaint, and actually pull them in and try and get them to enter the apartment and function the device.

BLITZER: Yes. These are live pictures in Aurora, Colorado, from that apartment complex, where police are now, possibly, going to use a robot to detonate the explosive devices still inside. That might be the safest way to do it.

Mr. Barry, thanks so much coming in.

BARRY: You're welcome.

BOLDUAN: Obviously, the situation is still unfolding. And coming up, the mother of a young woman killed in the movie theater shooting shares her daughter's final text to her before she was killed.





BLITZER: We know that 12 people have died in that theater massacre. One of them was Jessica Ghawi, a 24-year-old aspiring sportscaster.

Kate, this is heartbreaking, heart-wrenching to see what's going on, especially when you get to know some of these individual victims.

BOLDUAN: And some of them are fabulous individuals and just amazing stories. You know, we do know that police are just -- are still working to notify the family members of some of these victims, so news is really just trickling in about the victims.

But Jessica Ghawi's family confirms she died in that massacre. And now her mother is sharing the last time she heard from her daughter. Listen to this.


PHILLIPS: The last thing she texted to me was "I'm so excited about your trip here next week." And "I need my mama."

I was blessed. Only for 25 years, but I was blessed.


BOLDUAN: Some of her last words came in a tweet, where she wrote, "Movie doesn't start for 20 minutes."

She was a Texas native interning for a Colorado radio station. Friends say she was driven and funny, a natural sportscaster. Those qualities evident in this video that we're going to show you from her very first professional interview as an intern.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're nailing it, I'm telling you what. So far so good.

GHAWI: I know. I'm doing such a great job. This is full fail.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you should probably face the camera a little bit. There you go. Or not fall.

GHAWI: Can we please...


BOLDUAN: What a sweet girl.

Ghawi had a pensive side, too. This is an amazing detail. She was spared in another mass shooting just last month in Toronto. Blogging about it afterward, where she wrote, "Every second of every day is a gift. After Saturday evening, I know I truly understand how blessed I am for each second I am given."

It is heart-wrenching to even read that.

BLITZER: Nothing else to say. A very, very sad story.

Stay with CNN for continuing coverage. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.