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Aurora, Colo.—Chaos erupted Friday during a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises, when a heavily armed gunman opened fire in a packed theater. Witnesses said the gunman entered an emergency door, threw tear gas, and started shooting at the terrified audience.

At least 12 people have died, with dozens more wounded. Most viewers at the highly anticipated “Batman” premiere were between the ages of 15 and 25.

Authorities converged on the suburban Denver theater and captured the alleged gunman, 24-year-old James Holmes. Officers evacuated Holmes’ apartment building, which they said is booby-trapped.

People who fled the theater described a terrifying, confusing scene. At first, many thought the smoke and shots were special effects. “We thought someone was just pranking us in the movie,” said Jaime Marshall, who was in an adjacent theater.

Moviegoer Chris Ramos said it seemed “straight out of a horror film.” He said the gunman “was just literally shooting everyone, like hunting season.”

Adam Witt, who’d been eager to see the movie for months, called the ordeal “completely surreal and entirely horrifying.” He and his wife hid behind the seats in front of them as bullets flew.

Tammi Stevens, whose 18-year-old son survived, said, “You let your kids go to a late-night movie…you never think something like this would happen.”

One confirmed victim, 24-year-old Jessica Gwahi, escaped a deadly mall shooting in Toronto last month. Afterward, she blogged: “I was shown how fragile life was… I was reminded that we don’t know when or where our time on earth will end. When or where we will breathe our last breath.” Gwahi said the incident reminded her that “every moment we have to live our life is a blessing.”

President Obama said he and his wife were “shocked and saddened” by the shooting, calling it a time of “darkness and challenge” when Americans needed to come together.

Warner Bros. canceled the movie’s Paris premiere, and New York’s police commissioner said officers will work to prevent copycat crimes.

Sources: denverpost.com, cnn.com, foxnews.com

Discussion Questions:

  • Were you at a midnight showing of this movie? If so, did you give a second thought to your safety? How might this shooting affect your future entertainment decisions?
  • How does this tragedy make you feel about our society and world? What would you say to someone who’s seeking answers about why something such as this happens?
  • What might make someone commit such a horrific crime? How can we protect ourselves from people like this, if at all? Are stricter gun laws the answer? Why or why not?
  • Do you think the movie itself or the movie industry in general has any role in the gunman’s motive? How might the entertainment industry react to this shooting?
  • Why do you think it takes a tragedy for Americans to come together? How long do you think the unity will last, and why?
  • Do you tend to view life as a burden, filled with hardships, or are you more optimistic about our reason for living? Explain. Why do you think Jesus warned us we’d face trouble? How do you respond to those warnings?
  • What would go through your head if you were face to face with a gunman or hiding from one? Would you be praying? watching out for other people? other?
  • What experiences have reminded you about life’s fragility? Do you consider every day—even the tough ones—to be a blessing? Why or why not? What might help you remember that every moment is a gift from God, to be used to his glory?

Scripture links: Job 14:1-12; Psalm 37:7-20; Jeremiah 33:2-9; John 16:20-22, 33; 2 Corinthians 4:7-12; James 4:13-17.

 

 

 

 

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