AURORA, Colo. - When a gunman opened fire inside a movie theater early Friday morning near a mall in Aurora, Colo., many watching "The Dark Knight Rises" thought it was part of the movie.
"The shooting happened during a battle scene on screen, so it took some time to realize that is wasn't part of the special effects," one witness told TheDenverChannel.com.
Aurora police said 10 people died in the theater and 2 died at local hospitals. Another 59 people were treated at local hospitals.
Police arrested the suspect, 24-year-old James Holmes, in the parking lot of the theater.
A witness told TheDenverChannel.com the gunman walked in toward the front of the theater and fired into the back of the theater.
"Everybody thought it was fireworks," said Darius Harvey, one of the people in Theater 9 where the shooting happened.
Harvey said he didn't see the gunman but he saw sparks in the corner of the theater.
When asked what he wants to learn from all of this, he said, "Just why. Why that movie theater, why that time, why this area, why any of it?"
One of his friends in a theater next door was shot in the neck and a friend sitting in front of him was shot in the leg. Both are expected to be OK.
"I just hope that they're OK and hopefully we can all take this as a lesson and move on from it and become stronger and better friends," Harvey said.
Two other moviegoers named Kevin and Brittany told 7NEWS they were in the back of theater when the shooting happened.
Brittany said she saw some sort of canister going off in the air.
"I saw the smoke trail behind them and I wasn't sure what was going on," Brittany told TheDenverChannel.com.
She said she heard the gunshots after that.
Kevin said he saw flashes of light coming from a silhouetted person in a corner shooting.
"He was shooting really fast, really consistently," said Kevin.
"There were lots of kids, families there," Brittany said. "All those people were just innocent people watching a movie."
BULLETS WENT INTO SECOND THEATER
Zackary Golditch was shot in the neck in the theater next door.
"I actually thought it was firecrackers," said Golditch."My thought was to get out of the theater. I didn't want to get hit with another one."
Golditch said he walked down the street and some nearby construction workers helped him out. When police officers arrived, one of them took Golditch to the hospital. He was treated and released.
"It's just like what you see on ‘ER', you know. It's crazy and it just happened in reality," Golditch said.
Laurie was also in the theater next door when the shooting started.
"There was a shooting scene in the movie. At the same time, there was a gunshot, a real one," Laurie told TheDenverChannel.com.
Laurie said when her friend turned toward her, part of a bullet had hit her friend in the mouth.
Laurie and she and her friend ran out the exit doors and saw people running and screaming. She said her friend is OK.
MOVIE IN THIRD THEATER
Shayla Roeder was unable to get a ticket for the main showing in Theater 9 said ended up in a theater across the hall.
"The alarms go on and we thought it was joke," Roeder said.
She said when she saw a police officer in the emergency exit with a gun jumping up and down, she knew it was a real emergency.
Roeder said as she left the theater, she saw a teenage girl with multiple gunshot wounds.
"The first thing that we saw as we exited the emergency exit was probably a 13-year-old girl," Roeder said. "She had a severe bullet wound in her leg, stomach, and I think chest. And she had a look in her eyes that I've never seen before. It was honestly just death."