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Posted on Fri, Jul 20, 2012 : 7:25 a.m.

Ex-Ann Arbor police chief Dan Oates leads investigation into Colorado 'Dark Knight' massacre

By Paula Gardner

Recent developments:
Shooting suspect's apartment 'booby-trapped'; area evacuated
Shooting victim narrowly missed gunfire last month
Witnesses describe shooting scene

Note: The number of victims is now reported as 12 this morning, reduced from 14. That number was changed in this story.

Former Ann Arbor Police Chief Dan Oates is in the national spotlight Friday morning after his officers in Aurora, Colo., arrested the gunman accused of killing 12 and wounding at least 50 in a theater screening of "The Dark Knight Rises."

Colorado Shooting_Gard.jpg

Aurora Police Chief Daniel Oates talks to media at Aurora Mall where as many as 14 people were killed and many injured at a shooting at the Century 16 movie theatre in Aurora, Colo.

The Associated Press

The gunman, who is in custody, stood at the front of the theater and fired into the crowd about 12:30 a.m. MDT at a multiplex theater in a mall in Aurora that was showing the new Batman movie, the Associated Press reports.

"Witnesses tell us he released some sort of canister. They heard a hissing sound and some gas emerged and the gunman opened fire," Oates told reporters at a news conference, according the AP account.

Police, ambulances and emergency crews swarmed the scene after frantic calls started flooding the 911 switchboard, officials said. The suspected gunman was taken into custody behind the theater.

Details on the crime and the suspect were still unfolding as of Friday morning. There was no immediate word of any motive.

The suspect spoke of "possible explosives in his residence. We are dealing with that potential threat," Oates told reporters.

Aurora is on Denver's east side and is Colorado's third-largest city with 327,000 residents. Oates left Ann Arbor to run that department in 2005 after four years as police chief in Ann Arbor. Prior to that, he worked in New York City, coming to Ann Arbor just weeks before the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks.

More coverage on the Colorado attacks:

CNN: 14 dead, 50 wounded in shooting at Colorado theater, police chief says (with video)

Denver Post: 14 killed, 50 wounded at Aurora movie theater

Denver Post: Photos: Shooting at Aurora movie theater

Denver Post: Live blog of coverage First eyewitness account of Aurora theater shooting

ABC News: Aurora 'Dark Knight' Shooting Suspect Identified: James Holmes


Rudra N Rebbapragada

Sun, Jul 22, 2012 : 2:28 a.m.

A SOLUTION FOR PEACE, HARMONY, AND TRANQUILITY : This act of crime may compel us to better understand the nature of violence. I consider violence is the manifestation of a lack of peace, harmony, and tranquility in a person's living experience. It is related to the aspect of spiritual well-being of that person who resorts to violence. It is time that we must fight crime by paying attention to the problem of promoting the spiritual well-being of all people before the sickness like violence affects others in the community. We are selling guns and ammunition without knowing or understanding the health condition of the purchaser. I would suggest that we must verify by asking simple and direct questions to ascertain if the purchaser has any issues about his/her own living experience. You may be surprised, people who have issues, often disclose them when asked.


Sat, Jul 21, 2012 : 12:11 p.m.

My heart aches for the families in Aurora -- but look at what folks are bombarded with daily on television, movies, video games -- many times very violent, especially some of the video games. Makes one begin to wonder a tad.

Honest Abe

Sat, Jul 21, 2012 : 1:25 a.m.

Oates is a good guy, but he was a total softy when he was in Ann Arbor.


Fri, Jul 20, 2012 : 5:44 p.m.

This action is straight out of Warner Bros. Studio "Gangser Squad" trailer/preview (soon to be released) The Hollywood glorification of violence is responsible, in my opinion, for the conception, excitement, activities and acceptance of this type of crime. All you need is ONE copycat nutcase and this is what results. Funny/ludicrous how the pervayers, actors and sponsors of these 'action adventures' are all outspoken criticizers of gun, weapons, explosives and knife possesion, but lead the way in their abuse. And one of the presidential candidates is campaigning, with the support of Hollywood, as the 'Dark Knight' ! Will the next president still subscribe to Hollywood whims for more and more depravity while accepting their cash?


Fri, Jul 20, 2012 : 3:40 p.m.

This couldn't have happened in Ann Arbor luckily, since Ann Arbor those not a large move theater within the inner city limits :/


Fri, Jul 20, 2012 : 3:34 p.m.

We need more access to mental health care and stronger laws to commit people that are on the edge. This is just insane - and I seriously, seriously doubt a switch was flicked and this guy suddenly went nuts. People had to have known he was disturbed but even if someone wanted to do something about it, there is typically nothing one can do. That is a tragedy.


Sat, Jul 21, 2012 : 1:46 p.m.

This kid, like many others that grow up in todays world, probably raised himself in quiet desperation and was secluded to an alternate reality fueled by movies, media and Internet. No care or screening would have prevented this. The only hope is to encourage parents to focus on one of the most important job they should be doing, parenting their kids. The other involves removing guns from the system so that it's not as easy to commit these acts, but no one wants to talk about that as it may infringe upon their outdated "rights".


Fri, Jul 20, 2012 : 3:02 p.m.

I wonder if there is more of this thing or it just gets more exposure. Some guy blew up a whole school full of children in Bath Michigan (outside Lansing) at the turn of the century. We've always been a violent country. More violent? I don't know.


Fri, Jul 20, 2012 : 3:21 p.m.

I think it's just more (and quicker) exposure. Look at the way the media swarms to these incidents and runs coverage into the ground even before there's enough time to discern the entire story. If you want a real eye-opener read "Columbine" by David Cullen. Ten years after the fact he goes through and tells the full story, correcting the media's knee-jerk, ratings first reporting as well as revealing what the media didn't even bother to stick around and learn.


Fri, Jul 20, 2012 : 3:01 p.m.

According to the mayor of Ann Arbor on newstation WWJ 950 this morning Oates left Ann Arbor for Colorado because there isn't much crime in Ann Arbor


Mon, Jul 23, 2012 : 4:12 p.m.

If that's the reason he stated, he was being diplomatic. Oates was a wonderful guy who was all but pushed out. We didn't let him escape, we lost him.

say it plain

Sat, Jul 21, 2012 : 1:25 a.m.

Just btw, reports indicate that Aurora had just been named to ....ready now?...a list of the top ten safest cities in the US! By Forbes magazine. So, unless that's been a recent change (and indeed there are claims that crime in Aurora had been increasing recently, so it seems that some were shocked to see their city on that list), leaving Ann Arbor for Aurora wasn't because Ann Arbor was so boring crime-wise by comparison. Unless, of course, one doesn't believe in lists. We seem to take great stock in them around here ;-)

say it plain

Fri, Jul 20, 2012 : 4:58 p.m.

Is that the reason Oates gave for real? I'd love to know lol...


Fri, Jul 20, 2012 : 3:37 p.m.

Thanks for posting that, ttc. Did the mayor also mention that there aren't many police officers in Ann Arbor anymore, either? Probably not. I'm sure we all feel safer with his declaration today.


Fri, Jul 20, 2012 : 2:44 p.m.

Oates just called "One of the best police chiefs in America" by Bill Bratton former police commisioner of Los Angeles. Said he worked with Oates in the nineties in NYC. Howd we let him escape Ann Arbor?


Fri, Jul 20, 2012 : 3:05 p.m.

Um, "we" had nothing to do with it. He is smart, saw what our pathetic mayor and his puppets were up to, saw the light and bolted after a mere four years.


Fri, Jul 20, 2012 : 2:45 p.m.

This was just on MSNBC during a telephone interview.

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Jul 20, 2012 : 2:06 p.m.

If one has a computer accessible there are several websites where you can get links to Local streaming radio stations in Denver. I have been listening to local Denver news/talk stations. here is a link to one source for streaming radio divided by state....


Sat, Jul 21, 2012 : 1:39 p.m.

Alot of that "news" is just reiterating the facts of the area, this kids life, etc to make it into a 24 hr story. Welcome to the new news that isn't.


Fri, Jul 20, 2012 : 2:32 p.m.

Just glad you're not one of those anti tv nerds. I also may have sortof spoken too soon. I just heard Pete Williams say the shooters parents own the apartment building where he lived. There will be nothing unique or unusual about this kid and we all have one living within....range.

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Jul 20, 2012 : 2:29 p.m.

indeed. I thought TV was an obvious option. Some folks reading this may not be near a TV but are on some sort of Internet connection.


Fri, Jul 20, 2012 : 2:24 p.m.

Or you could turn on a TV.

Paula Gardner

Fri, Jul 20, 2012 : 12:07 p.m.

I recently added the video link to this article. It's long - about 8 minutes - and starts with a bit of an overview. However, once the interview starts with the witness, it's riveting and so emotional. I want to encourage people to both watch it to absorb some of the tragedy here, but also offer a warning that it really is emotional. This witness keeps his composure and offers so much detail. I'm just sitting here stunned after watching.


Fri, Jul 20, 2012 : 12:05 p.m.



Fri, Jul 20, 2012 : 3:38 p.m.

Believable after all other shooting in last few century's , decades*