EYEWITNESSES from the Colorado cinema shooting have told how they initially thought the shooting was a publicity stunt or part of the movie before the full horror became known.
A gunman entered theatre 9 at the Century 16 theatre in Aurora, near Denver, dressed in black and wearing a riot helmet, a bullet proof vest and goggles, according to witnesses.
Paul Otermat, who was inside the theatre said he thought it was a “publicity stunt” for the film before the man threw tear gas at the audience and opened fire.
Other witnesses watching films in adjoining theatres said that they initially thought the gunfire was in the movie before realising it was real.
Mr Otermat said: “Me and my girlfriend were sitting on the left side of the theatre. Front right there was an emergency exit and a man walked through there…I thought it was some sort of publicity stunt for a second .
“He threw tear gas over the crowd and as soon as he threw it I could feel it in my eye. Then he started firing shots into the crowd. Me and my girlfriend dragged ourselves out of the theatre.
“We ran through the lobby and we heard more shots. We ran into the parking lot and got into our car and drove off. When we got to the parking lot there were lots of cops already on the scene.”
Witnesses in other theatres were taken to the nearby Gateway High School to be debriefed by police.
Hayden Miller was in theatre 16.
He told CNN: “We heard anywhere from 10 to 20 shots and little explosions going on people screaming.
“Someone came on the PA and told everyone they needed to get out as soon as we got out saw everyone running and screaming.”
Speaking about the moment he heard the shots, he added: “As soon as we heard shots go off we figured it must be a louder part of the movie next to us. Nobody thought anything of it then 30 seconds later…
“As soon as they evacuated us we were hearing from friends inside Theatre 9 that he was wearing a gas mask and throwing tears gas at people. He wasn’t trying to let anyone out.
“We saw a couple of people hunched over leaving the theatre and ambulances were filled but they weren’t moving they were not going anywhere.”
Another witness told the station that he watching saw a young girl being carried out of the theatre.
He said: “A cop came walking through the front door holding a little girl in his arms and she wasn’t moving. I don’t know whose little girl it was.
"My heart goes out to her family and I hope they are ok, I hope she is ok and recovers. But I heard another witness in my theatre she was on phone she told whoever she was talking to said she saw bullet holes in the little girl’s back.
“I can’t think of any person who would intentionally hurt a little girl. it makes me think she got caught in the crossfire.”