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              FILE - In this Friday, July 20, 2012 file photo, Tom Sullivan, center, embraces family members outside Gateway High School where he had been searching for his son Alex Sullivan who was killed when a gunman opened fire, in Aurora, Colo. Sullivan says he

Holmes hearing reveals graphic details of Aurora theater shooting

Greg Campbell
Contributor

The full horror of the July 20, 2012 theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado began to emerge Monday at the preliminary hearing for suspect James Holmes.

Now bearded and sporting short brown hair, Holmes listened stoically as prosecutors presented their case against him. The hearing is expected to last a week.

Police witnesses painted a horrific picture of carnage in the movie theater, which was playing the latest “Batman” movie at the time of the slayings.

Aurora police officer Justin Grizzle described how he slipped in the blood pooled around the rear emergency exit of Theater 9 of Century 16, after police responded to calls of shots fired at 12:39 a.m.

Outside the theater door was a discarded AR-15, one of the weapons Holmes is accused of using to murder 12 people and injure 70.

Inside, wounded civilians screamed for help over the blaring of an alarm. The film, “The Dark Knight Rises,” continued to play on the big screen.

According to Grizzle, there were pools of blood underfoot, and the air was thick with stinging, choking tear gas. But Grizzle also said he remembered cellphones — scores of them, “ringing over and over,” when he first entered the theater.

The testimony was graphic at times, and witnesses — many with years of law enforcement or military backgrounds — struggled to compose themselves.

Grizzle described how he and another office sped two wounded victims to Aurora South hospital: a pregnant Ashley Moser, who had been shot in the chest and spine, and her husband, who had been shot in the head.

Grizzle said the man kept screaming for his young daughter, who was still at the theater, and demanding that Grizzle return to find her. At one point, according to Grizzle, the man tried to jump out of the moving car, and Grizzle had to hold him inside during the final miles to the emergency room.