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Four people have been found dead following a shooting incident that triggered a stand-off with police in Aurora, Colorado.

Police say they went to a townhouse after shots were heard there overnight.

Officers later entered the home. Following a gunfight they found the suspect dead, along with three people apparently killed earlier, police say.

Four people have been found dead following a shooting incident that triggered a stand-off with police in Aurora, Colorado

Four people have been found dead following a shooting incident that triggered a stand-off with police in Aurora, Colorado

Aurora, near Denver, was the scene of a mass shooting at a cinema in July, in which a gunman killed 12 people.

He opened fire at random during the premiere of the Batman film The Dark Knight Rises. Suspect James Eagan Holmes is currently being tried on murder charges.

In Saturday’s incident, police said they were alerted by a woman who had escaped from the townhouse.

The suspect barricaded himself for five hours, before officers moved in and shot him.

Entering the property, the team found the shooter dead, along with two other men and a woman. Their identities have not been disclosed.

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James Holmes, the man accused of killing 12 people in a shooting at a Batman film screening in Aurora, Colorado, has appeared in court for the first time.

James Holmes, 24, sat in court in a red jail suit with dyed orange hair, and appeared sleepy during the proceedings.

Nine of 58 people wounded by the gunman remain in critical condition.

On Sunday, President Barack Obama met survivors and families of the dead as hundreds of people took part in a service of remembrance.

James Holmes is to be held without bail at a jail in Centennial, Colorado, the judge said.

He is accused of throwing two canisters of gas into a busy midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises before firing at random at the crowd. Witnesses say he was wearing full body armour during the attack.

It is reported that a semi-automatic rifle jammed during the attack and the gunman switched to a weapon with less firepower, possibly saving some lives.

James Holmes, the man accused of killing 12 people in a shooting at Batman film screening in Aurora, has appeared in court for the first time

James Holmes, the man accused of killing 12 people in a shooting at Batman film screening in Aurora, has appeared in court for the first time

James Holmes was being held in solitary confinement. Police say he is not co-operating with them.

The dead include a six-year-old girl and two US military servicemen.

James Holmes appeared in court at 09:30 local time for the first stage in a process likely to see him face at least 12 counts of first-degree murder. He could face further charges of aggravated assault and weapons violations.

Prosecutors are to formally file charges on 30 July.

One prosecutor has warned it could take at least a year before James Holmes stands trial, the AP reported.

The office of prosecutor Carol Chambers is considering whether to press for the death penalty for James Holmes, a decision that will be made in consultation with the victims’ families, she said.

On Monday morning uniformed police were stationed outside the court house, and deputies were patrolling the roofs of court buildings.

President Barack Obama said that when he visited Aurora on Sunday he had shared hugs and tears, but also laughter as the families recounted the lives of their loved ones.

He added that he visited as much as a father and husband as a president, and that Aurora was in the nation’s thoughts.

Barack Obama said: “I confessed to them words were inadequate but my main task was to serve as a representative of the entire country and say we are thinking about them at this moment each and every day.”

Both President Barack Obama and his Republican Party challenger, Mitt Romney, curtailed their election campaigns in the wake of the Aurora attack, dropping advertising in Colorado state out of respect for victims and their families.

Meanwhile, residents have been laying flowers at a memorial site near the Century cinema and thousands of people have been participating in vigils outside City Hall.

Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan told the crowd on Sunday: “While our hearts are broken, our community is not.”

On Saturday police managed to gain access to James Holmes’ flat, which had been laid with booby traps connected to explosives that could have killed someone entering through the door.

The FBI is now collecting evidence, and investigators say a computer found inside his home could provide crucial details.

Several US media outlets have reported that a Batman mask and poster were in the flat, but police have not confirmed this.

Police said the suspect had acted with “calculation and deliberation”, adding that he had been stockpiling ammunition for months.

Over the course of eight weeks he bought 6,300 rounds of ammunition: 3,000 for a .233 semi-automatic AR-15 rifle, 3,000 for two .40 Glock 22 pistols and 300 cartridges for a pump-action shotgun.

James Holmes bought the four weapons legally.

Authorities say the suspect is not linked to terror groups and have not established a motive for the attack. James Holmes had no criminal record other than a speeding fine.

James Holmes grew up in San Diego and was pursuing a PhD in neuroscience at the University of Colorado in Denver. School officials have said that he recently left the programme.

Names of the dead in Aurora cinema shooting:

• Jessica Ghawi, 24

• Veronica Moser, 6

• John Larimer, 27

• Alexander Boik, 18

• Jesse Childress, 29

• Jonathan Blunk, 26

• Rebecca Ann Wingo, 32

• Alex Sullivan, 27

• Gordon Cowden, 51

• Micayla Medek, 23

• Alexander Teves, 24

• Matthew McQuinn, 27 (presumptively identified, awaiting confirmation)

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US begin to mourn the 12 people killed by a gunman at a showing of the new Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises, and a candlelit vigil has been held in Aurora, Colorado.

US President Barack Obama ordered flags flown at half mast.

A man in a gas mask and body armour threw tear gas canisters at a midnight screening, then fired on the crowd, killing 12 and injuring 58.

Suspect James Holmes, 24, was arrested outside the cinema, police said.

He will appear at Arapahoe County District Court, in nearby Centennial, Colorado, on Monday at 09:30 local time.

Hundreds of mourners gathered in Aurora for the vigil.

Candles and flowers were left on the lawn. One letter read: “To all the innocent souls… This is for you. We will never forget. This is Aurora.”

At the Queen of Peace Roman Catholic church, Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila told mourners: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. The heart of our Father is stronger than the bullets that killed 12 people.”

In a briefing at the end of the day in Colorado, an emotional Governor John Hickenlooper confirmed that the casualty figure had been revised down one, to 70 people killed or injured.

Thirty people remained in hospital, John Hickenlooper said, with 11 of those in a critical condition.

“It’s an act that defies description. Everyone I’ve talked to all day is filled with an anger that can’t find focus,” he said.

Aurora police chief Dan Oates said the attempt to defuse complex booby-traps, explosive devices and “things that look like mortar rounds” at James Holmes’s home had been abandoned for the night, with federal government experts due to arrive on Saturday.

“I’ve personally never seen anything like what we’ve found in there,” the police chief said.

Suspect James Holmes, 24, was arrested outside the cinema

Suspect James Holmes, 24, was arrested outside the cinema

James Holmes was said to be armed with a rifle, a shotgun and two pistols when he launched his assault. All weapons and ammunition were bought legally within the past few months, Dan Oates said.

Authorities have established no terrorism link, nor any motive, and James Holmes had no criminal record in Aurora.

In New York, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the suspect had dyed his hair red and told police he was the Joker, Batman‘s infamous nemesis.

Cinemas in that city tightened security at Batman showings following the attack, and the French premiere of the film in Paris was cancelled.

The film’s director, Christopher Nolan, issued a statement expressing his horror.

“The movie theatre is my home, and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me,” Christopher Nolan said.

“Nothing any of us can say could ever adequately express our feelings for the innocent victims of this appalling crime, but our thoughts are with them and their families.”

Despite a strong past academic record, James Holmes was in the process of withdrawing from a doctoral programme in neuroscience at the University of Colorado-Denver.

One neighbor told Agence France-Presse that James Holmes “was always wearing camouflage pants”, adding: “We did not know him well because he talked to nobody. He was always locked up behind his door.”

His family said in a written statement: “Our hearts go out to those who were involved in this tragedy and to the families and friends of those involved. We ask that the media respect our privacy during this difficult time.”

Police have given no indication of the names of the dead, the last of whose bodies was removed from the cinema at about 17:00 on Friday.

One woman known to have been killed was Jessica Ghawi, also known as Jessica Redfield, an aspiring broadcaster and a regular blogger.

In June, Jessica Ghawi, 24, narrowly missed being caught in a shooting rampage in Toronto, leaving the scene five minutes before a man opened fire at the Eaton Centre shopping mall.

The attack began minutes into the showing at about 00:30 local time, when the gunman apparently entered the cinema through an emergency exit door near the front of the auditorium.

Reports said the attacker had a ticket but left the cinema, pretending to receive a phone call, before returning fully armed.

He wore a bullet-proof vest, tactical body armor and gloves, and was carrying an AR-15 military-style, semi-automatic rifle, a shotgun and two pistols, police said.

He threw two tear gas grenades, then opened fire with a rifle. There was chaos as movie-goers fled, some dressed in costume as heroes and villains.

Ten people were killed at the cinema and two others died later in hospital of their wounds. Among the injured were a four-month-old baby, who was released from hospital after treatment, and a six-year-old child.

One witness said the gunman had been “slowly making his way up the stairs and just firing – picking random people”. At least one person in an adjacent auditorium was injured when a bullet went through the wall, police said.

Another eyewitness, identified only as Pam, said: “He fired a canister into the air. It shot right into the air, then I started to hear the bang, bang, bang of a gun.”

Salina Jordan, 19, told the Denver Post she had seen one girl shot in the cheek, and a girl who appeared to be about nine years old with a gunshot wound to the stomach.

Informed of the massacre at dawn, President Barack Obama spoke briefly to a campaign rally before returning to the White House to address the situation.

“There are going to be other days for politics,” he said.

“This, I think, is a day for prayer and reflection.”

Cinema shooting suspect:

• James Holmes, 24, was a former neuroscience PhD student at University of Colorado-Denver

• Attended high school in San Diego, California, where his parents still live

• He lived in an apartment in north of Aurora, about five miles from the cinema

• Only previous brush with the law was a summons for speeding in October 2011

Colorado gun laws:

• Residents allowed to keep guns in homes, offices and vehicles, but can only carry them in public with a permit

• There are no limits to how many guns can be bought a month, and the state permits sale of automatic weapons

• No waiting period for buying a handgun, both state and federal state law requires criminal background checks

• Since 1998 Columbine massacre, 20 miles from scene of Friday’s shooting, it has become easier to buy guns in US – a national ban on assault weapons sale expired in 2004