Aurora: A 21-year-old woman who escaped injury in the Colorado theatre shooting rampage gave birth to a baby boy on Tuesday while her husband was in the same hospital in a medically induced coma with a gunshot wound to the head.
Katie Medley and her husband, Caleb, both wearing Batman apparel, were at a showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” in the Denver suburb of Aurora when a gunman clad in tactical body armour, helmet and gas mask opened fire during a midnight showing early on Friday. Twelve people, including a six-year-old girl, were killed and 58 wounded.
Twenty people remained hospitalised on Tuesday. Seven were in critical condition and two in serious condition.
James Eagan Holmes, 24, was arrested behind the theatre shortly after the massacre and was in court for the first time on Monday, appearing dazed and sleepy. At the hearing, the judge set a date of next Monday for formal charges to be filed.
The judge ruled on Tuesday that no cameras would be allowed in the courtroom when Holmes is charged. Holmes’ initial appearance on Monday was televised.
The shooting rampage has renewed debate in the United States about gun control. At the same time, Colorado authorities said on Tuesday that applications in the state for background checks to purchase firearms surged in the aftermath of the shooting.
Caleb Medley, a 23-year-old aspiring comedian, was listed in critical condition on Tuesday at University of Colorado Denver Hospital. A website set up to raise money for his care because the Medleys have no health insurance, www.calebmedley.com/help, said he had lost his right eye, suffered brain damage and was in a medically induced coma.
Katie Medley gave birth in the same hospital where her husband was being treated.
A spokeswoman for the hospital relayed the following statement from the Medleys: “The family is excited to say that Hugo Jackson Medley was born at 7.11 (am Mountain Time, 1311 GMT) this morning. Both mom and baby are doing great.”
‘His pulse went up’
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday evening, Caleb Medley’s friend Michael West said Medley had made small improvements and appeared to react when his wife and newborn son came into his hospital room.
“Katie brought the baby into the room and Caleb’s blood pressure went up,” West said. “She put the baby near his arms and his pulse went up.”
Medley’s 21-year-old brother, Seth, added that the wounded man had also moved his right hand slightly in the direction of the baby.
Seth Medley said his brother, who lost his right eye to a bullet, had “serious injuries” to his face.
Actor Christian Bale, who stars in the Batman films, visited the Medical Centre of Aurora on Tuesday to meet some of the shooting victims, a hospital spokeswoman said.
Authorities have not offered a motive for the shooting spree. Police said Holmes, a former neuroscience student, left his 75-square-metre apartment booby-trapped with explosives that authorities said could have destroyed the entire complex.
Local and state bomb experts conducted a controlled demolition over the weekend. The building remains closed and police have not said when residents will be allowed to return.
Holmes is in solitary confinement to protect him from other prisoners. He had recently sought to leave a doctoral degree programme in neuroscience at the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical School, a few blocks from his apartment.
Cable news programmes aired lively debates about the high rate of gun ownership in the United States, where the Second Amendment to the Constitution guarantees the right to bear arms.
Washington reluctant to wade into issue
But in Washington, there appeared to be little appetite for the contentious issue.
“I think the widespread view is that somebody who is that unbalanced will find some way to do harm,” Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said. “And we have many areas of the country that have very strict gun control laws and it seems not to have had any impact on the incidences that are in question.”
“So I don’t sense any movement among either Democrats or Republicans in the direction of thinking that stricter gun control laws would likely have prevented this horrible occurrence in Colorado,” McConnell said.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said it was too soon following the tragedy to have the discussion.
“I think we should just wait for a reasonable period of time before people are off making statements about what they should do and what they shouldn’t do,” said Reid, a Democrat.
Asked by reporters about his personal stance on limiting large-capacity ammunition magazines, a type of which was used in the Colorado shooting, Reid showed irritation with the question, responding, “You guys, I’m not going to be here with each of you debating gun control.”
President Barack Obama, who travelled to Colorado on Sunday to comfort family members and victims, could speak about the gun control issue more broadly, White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Tuesday, declining to offer details or a time frame.
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation said that in the three days following the rampage, 2,887 people were approved for gun purchases, compared with 2,012 the weekend before, a 43.5 per cent increase.
Brandon Baker, owner of Rocky Mountain Guns & Ammo in Parker, Colorado, about 24km from Aurora, said business had been brisk since the theatre shooting.
“Our gun sales have gone up, but we’ve had more requests for training,” said Baker, a certified firearms instructor. “I’m booked up for the next two-and-a-half-months.”
Stories about the victims continued to emerge. Friends and relatives of US Navy veteran Jonathan Blunk said that he had been killed while shielding his date from the gunfire.
“We were joined at the hip,” friend Kyle Dawson said. “Friend almost doesn’t even describe the relationship. That guy was my brother.”
Over the weekend, “The Dark Knight Rises” took in $160.8 million (Dh590 million) at US and Canadian box offices, well below pre-opening estimates of a $170 million to $198 million debut, but still a strong number for a film that box-office watchers said felt the impact of Friday’s shooting.
The latest issue of a Batman comic series due to hit stores this week was postponed in light of the shooting, DC Entertainment said on Tuesday.
A fundraising drive at givingfirst.org for victims of the shooting had raised nearly $2 million, including donations from Warner Bros, the studio behind the movie.
Colorado’s Fox31 television station in Denver reported that Warner Bros had donated $1 million, citing sources, but a studio spokeswoman would not confirm a specific amount.