"Dark Knight Rises" shooting witnesses spread news on Twitter

Police are pictured outside of a Century 16 movie theatre where as many as 14 people were killed and many injured at a shooting during the showing of a movie at the in Aurora, Colo., July 20, 2012.
CBS Denver

(CBS News) Before ambulance lights and reporters descended on an AMC Theater in Aurora, Colo., excited fans of "The Dark Knight Rises" bore witness to a gruesome event that would blur the lines between fiction and reality.

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"I thought it was part of the movie, like a fun little prank - that it would be over in a few seconds. It obviously wasn't," Spenser Sherman told "CBS This Morning." The shooting left at least 12 dead and dozens injured.

Accounts of the events happening in real-time on social media sites are chilling.

The Poynter Institute gathered a series of tweets from the real-time micro-blog Twitter, giving insight into how the events unfolded for audience members Thursday night. Like fans across the nation, who lined up for the midnight showing of the film's opening night, people tweeted their excitement.

"It's going to be a good night! (@ Century Aurora 16 for The Dark Knight Rises," @JuJubee__13 tweeted. Within the hour, the mood would darken as the violence shifted from onscreen to the audience. Witnesses reported a lone gunman turned on audience members and opened fire.

"There was a lot going on in the soundtrack of the movie at that time. In the beginning, I don't think people realized what was happening," witness William Kent told "CBS This Morning," who saw evidence of bullets passing through the walls.

"Shots fired in the theater. #batman #aurora #colorado," tweeted @dingos8myTARDIS. According to Aurora Police, witnesses reported the shooter was wearing a gas mask and released some sort of canister.

"Police r swarmin century 16," tweeted @ChayJ3.

"There are cops from denver, cenntenial, and aurora. Things are nuts right now," @IsaacJRamos tweeted.

The scene was described as chaotic, as law enforcement rushed to evacuate the theater. Bystanders were able to take photos of debris and abandoned clothes outside the theater and posted them on Twitter. Videos of the pandemonium following the immediate events of the shooting began appearing on YouTube. One victim posted gory photos of his injury on the link-sharing site Reddit.

The suspect, who has been identified as 24-year-old James Holmes, was apprehended early Friday morning. Aurora is located on the southeast outskirts of Denver, about 10 miles from downtown.

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