We're following the tragic shooting in Denver today that has left 12 people dead so far and 38 injured. The shooting happened at the Century 16 Movie Theaters at the Aurora Town Center during a midnight showing of the film The Dark Night Rises. NBC News has confirmed the suspect is 24-year-old James Holmes, who police say appeared at the front of the theater, threw some type of gas or explosive device, and open fired. The gruesome details are beginning to trickle out from eyewitnesses, such as Jennifer Seeger, who said the shooter at one point aimed the gun at her head but then shot the people seated behind her.
President Obama was informed of the massacre at 5:26 am by chief counterterrorism adviser John Brennan. Both the President and his opponent Mitt Romney immediately issued statements expressing condolences for the victims. Obama was scheduled to appear at two rallies in Florida today, one in Fort Myers and another in Winter Park, but in light of the tragedy, he decided to return to Washington and suspend his campaign's political activity for the day along with Mitt Romney.
Following a massacre like this, it is hard to avoid heated debates about gun control laws. Politicians and journalists are already connecting the dots. If history is any guide, says the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza, today's shooting will do little to change the direction of the gun control debate, which has been moving away from stricter legislation for some time now. Others have displayed less tact in their comments, such as Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tx.), who questioned why nobody else in the theater had a gun to take down the shooter.
But in general, today's event strike a chord in our national consciousness, and we are all reminded of the similar horrors that took place 13 years ago in Columbine, not far from Aurora. Dave Cullen, author of the best-selling book Columbine will join us tonight to talk about the lessons we've learned since then.
Stay with us for more updates on this story as it unfolds.