(AURORA, Colo.) — A California woman who identified herself as the mother of James Holmes, the 24-year-old man federal authorities said is the suspect in a mass shooting in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater, told ABC News her son was likely the culprit, saying, “You have the right person.”
The woman, contacted at her home in San Diego, spoke briefly with ABC News and immediately expressed concern her son may be involved in the shooting death of at least 12 people overnight.
“You have the right person,” she said, apparently speaking on gut instinct. “I need to call the police… I need to fly out to Colorado.”
Holmes, 24, was identified by federal authorities as the man in custody, accused of killing at least 12 people and injuring 50 others, including members of the U.S. military, during a midnight showing of the blockbuster movie “The Dark Knight Rises.”
Holmes was a student at the University of Colorado Denver Medical Campus until he withdrew in June.
An earlier ABC News broadcast report suggested that a Jim Holmes of a Colorado Tea Party organization might be the suspect, but that report was incorrect. Several other local residents with similar names were also contacted via social media by members of the public who mistook them for the suspect.
Local news reports showed aerial video of police cautiously searching Holmes’ apartment, some five miles from the Century Aurora 16 theater, as the suspect reportedly told police he had explosives inside. A thousand miles away in San Diego, several police cars have arrived at the home of Holmes’ mother.
Witnesses to the shooting said that a man appeared at the front of the theater about 20 minutes into the movie with a rifle, handgun and gas mask. He then threw a canister that released some kind of gas, after which a hissing sound ensued, and he then opened fire on the crowd packed into the early-morning screening of the film.
“We were maybe 20 or 30 minutes into the movie and all you hear, first you smell smoke, everybody thought it was fireworks or something like that, and then you just see people dropping and the gunshots are constant,” witness Christ Jones told ABC’s Denver affiliate KMGH. “I heard at least 20 to 30 rounds within that minute or two.”
A man who talked to a couple who was inside the theater told ABC News, “They got up and they started to run through the emergency exit, and that when she turned around, she said all she saw was the guy slowly making his way up the stairs and just firing at people, just picking random people.”
“The gunshot continued to go on and on and then after we didn’t hear anything,” the couple told the man. “We finally got up and there was people bleeding, there was people obviously may have been actually dead or anything, and we just ran up out of there, there was chaos everywhere.”
The FBI said approximately 100 of its agents are on the scene assisting with the ongoing investigation.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Carma Hassan and Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN Newswire
Cyndi Lundeberg, CNN Newswire