Speaking on behalf of the cast and crew of ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, I would like to express our profound sorrow at the senseless tragedy that has befallen the entire Aurora community.

I would not presume to know anything about the victims of the shooting but that they were there last night to watch a movie. I believe movies are one of the great American art forms and the shared experience of watching a story unfold on screen is an important and joyful pastime.

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.

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.

—  Christopher Nolan
Nobody noticed the mental illness at this early age. Why? Because he was getting straight A’s. And he was causing no problems. And he was a good kid.
—  Dan King, public defender, about James Holmes
Stop saying the guy in the Nashville movie theatre shooting/incident today was dangerous simply because he’s been committed before.

Fuck. *I* have been committed in the past, and yeah, there are so many variables as to what can/will get you committed that just that doesn’t mean you’re a dangerous person by default. 

The mental health ‘system’ in Tennessee is so broken that they’re totally ok cutting people off meds they need if deemed ‘too expensive’ or ‘not preferred’, public clinics have backups that can last 8+ hours during a ‘mental health crisis’, actually getting therapy when you need it can take a fight that takes months, you can literally go into a clinic and tell them exactly how you’re going to kill yourself and be turned away as ‘not serious’ enough. (I know this from experience.) The state, and to be honest most states, don’t really give a shit about mentally ill people until something ‘happens’ to/with them.

(Sidenote…shoutout to my amazing, but in private practice psychologist, who, for 11 years now has been a savior to me when I was in both the public clinic system and the ‘private’ system as well. That man deserves a fucking medal of honor for helping me navigate the clusterfuck that is the Tennessee mental health system.)

And finally….mentally ill people are more likely to be hurt by others than the other way around. 

Behind the scenes.  Shooting pitch-dark places in general is a bit of a pain; great care has to be taken to portray the space accurately but without a ton of harsh shadows or reflections which add an air of artifice to the image.  The difficulty grows exponentially with the size of the space - so basically, it’s a royal pain in the ass to light a dark theatre capable of holding thousands.  But that’s exactly what I did about half a decade ago, at the RKO Keith’s Theatre in Queens.  I’d already blown through all the juice in the lead acid battery for my 200 W/S portable Norman strobe on my first exposure of the day.  For my second, I would have to get creative; on hand, I had 3 diffused low-output LED lanterns, a 78 W/S Canon Speedlight that ate 4 batteries and part of 4 more during this shot, and a 100 lumen tactical torch.  It took two attempts, both half-hour exposures, to get this shot.  The lanterns had to be carefully arranged; I had to make sure that I was cloaked in all-black and out of scene as I popped off the speedlight; the torch could only illuminate details (such as the box seats to the left of frame).  Finally, after running around lighting for a half hour, and then waiting another half hour for a dark-frame to cancel out long exposure noise, I was left with this - and quite satisfied.

Print available here.

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Crime scene photo of evidence outside the Aurora movie theatre where mass murderer James Holmes killed 12 people. The gas mask pictured caused a lot of controversy due to the fact that Holmes himself was found wearing a gas mask (he set of gas and smoke canisters before he started shooting in the packed theatre), the presence off another gas mask was thought to be a clue that Holmes was not operating alone and that he had an accomplice. During the trial of James Holmes it was revealed that police officers had dropped their own gas masks in the rush to enter the theatre.
Online warnings of Batman Premiere shooting allegedly appear on 9gag website

As police name James Holmes, the suspect in custody for shooting dead 12 people and injuring 50 others at the screening of the new Batman film in Denver, did he post a warning online about his intended actions? Police are currently investigating the reasons behind the shooting but some members of an online picture sharing site have reasons to believe the shooter had sent a warning yesterday.

Users of the popular memes website 9gag have surfaced a meme that was allegedly posted by a user called JamesHolmes124.

The photo shows a iconic scene of Nazis watching a film out of the film Inglorious Bastards. Across the photo is a message reading “Tomorrow I will kill everyone during the new Batman premiere in Colorado - People will die - for the glory of the Le 9gag army!”

The post has now been deleted but screenshots were allegedly taken when it was posted 1 day ago. The username JamesHolmes124 also doesn’t exist.

It’s possible 9Gag have removed the post to avoid causing offence or have been asked to do so whilst law enforcement agencies investigate. Because the post has been removed, it is very hard to tell from a screenshot if the post has been photoshopped. However, some online users of 9Gag have commented on the issue suggesting that the user was known on the forum and sent a warning a few weeks ago.

One user posted “A few weeks ago, a man by the username of ‘JamesHolmes154’ posted a thread on 9gag saying he was going to ‘shoot up’ a theater. He was clearly distressed and admitted he was suffering from PTSD. He said he was going to walk in and try to take as much lifes as possible. The whole 9gag community egged him on and give him tips on what to wear, etc. They give him tips on sharp-shooting and sent him messages on how to take as much lifes as possible.”

Update: “Don’t Fall for 9gag Theatre Shooting Hoax”

Shooter opens fire in Louisiana movie theater: Three people dead, seven injured

A shooting inside a Lafayette, Louisiana movie theater left three people dead and seven injured, according to Lafayette police chief Jim Craft.

The incident took place during a screening of Trainwreck at the Grand 16 Theater.According to witnesses, the gunman stood up about 20 minutes into the movie and started firing at the audience. He later shot and killed himself.

The shooter is described as white male in his 50s. His identity has not been released to the public.

The incident is tragically reminiscent of the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting in July 2012. That shooting, which occurred during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises, took the lives of 12 people and injured 70 others. The shooter, James Eagan Holmes, was recently convicted of 24 counts of first-degree murder, 140 counts of attempted first-degree murder, and one count of possessing explosives.

As a 4 year old kid, I went onstage with my preschool class and sang Feliz Navidad. My friend an I turned it into a major show and hogged both the available microphones while the other kids mumbled. At the end I said thank you about 12 times. They had to kick us off the stage.

At 5 years old, my mother, a piano teacher started giving me piano lessons. I fought her because I thought that I knew how to play already. She taught me that I didn’t - and how to be teachable.

As a 6 year old kid, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I said, “A teacher.” I thought it would be cool to boss around a class of kids.

At 7 years old, obsessed with history, and the American Revolution, I ask my grandmother if she could make me a Patriot uniform for Halloween. I write fanfiction about two brothers on opposite sides of the war - one under George Washington, one under General Howe. I have a friend from England who I make pretend to be a Redcoat and we stand out barefoot in the snow because I was, “reenacting the winter at Valley Forge.” My mom yells at me that we’ll get frostbite. But I’m too busy pretending to be a Patriot spy that I don’t care.

At 8 years old I started learning viola from a video curriculum to get me started. I didn’t have a teacher yet but that didn’t stop me.

At 9, I met Alison, the teacher of a summer strings course. I began lessons with her that year, and she taught me for 12 years straight.

As a 10 year old, I was given the lead role in a Christmas musical, playing a character whose name was also my own. Two days before the show, I nearly cut the tip of my finger off, but the show must go on. I had a huge bandage on my finger, but the musical was a smash hit with the audience. I secretly thought to myself that I should be given the award for, “most likely to become famous.” 

As an 11 year old kid, my brother and I started a band. It ended up being 4 pasty white kids, and one black kid singing Christian parodies of classic rock songs, and writing originals. The year later we performed at our church coffee house to rousing cheers. I felt like I could do anything.

At age 13, we moved. I lost most of my friends. But new town, new happenings right? I asked my parents if I could do community theatre. They said no, they’d heard through the grapevine that there were too many “bad influences.” I was crushed but said okay. So I threw myself into music instead. I listened to new artists, and connected with first my Scottish roots, then Irish. I learned that being American didn’t mean you forgot where you came from.

At 14 I wrote, directed, and acted in a small comedy with the friends from my band which we deemed a “minifilm.” In retrospect it was terrible. Yet we made more of them. We laughed together. My brother and I joined orchestra in the fall. At first we barely spoke to the other kids, and they barely spoke to us. Then, a pizza party loosened us up. We met some of our best friends there. Also, I started vlogging. 

The year I turned 15, i started the One Year Adventure Novel curriculum and joined a community which embraced me for who I was, and loved me for my interests, and made me feel like I belonged. We wrote stories and songs together. People ask me what I want to be, and I tell them, “a writer.” They taught me that home is as much where you live as the tens, fifties, even hundreds of friends scattered across the country who hold pieces of your heart. The same summer, I get my first violin student. 

At 16 I traveled on a trip that cost me $1200 of my own hard earned money, (I paid for my mother to travel with me) to Olathe, KS to an OYAN workshop. Words cannot describe the things that began there, the friendship’s formed. A few friends and I made a musical ensemble and performed a ramshackle little performance for the other students on the last day. As I look at a room full of smiling faces, at joy brought because we created something that made others happy, I heard it very clearly. This is what I was supposed to do with my life. 

Later, the year takes a difficult turn. In the spring before my 17th birthday, things go terribly wrong. I lie to my family, several relationships develop major issues, and I grow very ill. I develop anxiety, experience depression, and am 15 pounds too thin. I wake up crying, and have days where all I want to do is sleep. Sometimes I am too sick to function. I turn to music, and discover some of my favorite bands. It helps me process. It helps me pray. The following year is rough, but to God’s glory, I make it. I graduate high school and set my sights on a music degree. 

Around the time I start to get better, I begin fiddle lessons with Brian Conway. He’s a legend of Irish music. People would give their right leg to take lessons with him. But I don’t really understand that at the time. He invites me into his home, makes me tea at my lessons, and helps me learn to carry on the tradition and music of our culture.

 At 18, we take a trip to Washington DC. On the trip I listen to Brendan James. His music marks the beginning of the time I felt like I had really begun to overcome my anxiety, depression, and illness. 

At 19, the following year, my brother and I see him in concert, where he is a supporting artist for Andy Grammer. I tell him how much his music means to me, and how it helped me. He spends 45 minutes talking to us after the show. He listens to my stories, and mentors me; offers me advice. At the end, he writes on a piece of paper, now taped to my wall, “Your heart knows what your worries may not. Choose the brightest parts of you and chase them with utter abandon. You got this.” At 19, I have 5 private violin students, and my neighbor’s reference gets me a job at a local family music center. It begins. 

At 20, I have dreams. It was always my dream to play at festivals in NYC, and with Brian and other students, I play at the NY Trad Fest in Battery Park. I kill it. People clap and cheer. My brother and I walk out on Pier A and look across the murky but shimmering Hudson at the Statue of Liberty in the night lights. Brian lets some of the students sleep over at his house - my brother and I take the finished attic. I am living. 

In February of 2016, I am nearly through with college, but I’ve still more to go. I listen to Hamilton: The American Musical. It ignites something in me I’d forgotten was there. It takes me a bit to figure out what it is, but between the crying tears of emotion over music in the dark, to feeling 100% more enthusiastic about every arts related pursuit I am doing, I realize it’s going to be good. 

In March, over Easter weekend and spring break I simultaneously find out that Aaron Burr went to law school in Litchfield, (my dad’s hometown), that Alexander Hamilton is my cousin, and I daytrip to the City and visit Hamilton Grange. I look with tears in my eyes at the original piano. There are moments that the words don’t reach. 

April 2016. I am a senior in college now. I’m getting my music degree. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a process of blood, sweat, and tears. I prep for my spring senior recital. Then, the week before May 1st (my recital), my grandma dies. It is sudden. She is still young. Our family grieves. The funeral is the day before my recital. I meet family members I didn’t even know I had. They all decided to come to my recital the following day. 

May 1st. The recital is made up of half family, half friends. I dedicate the concert in memory of my grandma. My grandpa cries in the front row. But I’m doing what I set out to do - people are smiling by the end. One of my students returns to her lessons the following day and looks at me with an awestruck wonder. I realize I am inspiring them. 

The following week, by pure coincidence, I listen to In The Heights, in the dark, in the heat - as summer is setting in on the Northeast. I am in college - Nina’s struggle hits me hard. But Abuela’s death hits me like a ton of bricks. It is cathartic - and the arts, once again, is helping me mend. 

I turn 21. A few weeks later, I attend Ham4Ham for the first time. We don’t win, but it doesn’t matter. Lin-Manuel Miranda stands on the front steps of the Richard Rodgers, and he is radiant. Positive energy and enthusiasm exudes from him in waves. He talks about cell phones and supporting live theatre. Patti LuPone comes out the doors and everybody just dies. The day is beautiful, and so sunny, and bright and I keep looking around thinking how lucky we are to be alive right now.

Fast forward a few weeks. I watch my students perform in annual concerts. They do well, and their families thank me; take smiling pictures of their kid and me. I tell each of the kids how very proud of them I am, of their progress, of the guts it takes to get up and perform in front of people. I go home. 50 people have been killed in Orlando. I don’t know how to deal with yet another mass shooting, which of course hits home - after all, I grew up in Sandy Hook. I turn in all my homework, then try to (unsuccessfully) score tickets to Hamilton.

On Monday morning, I watch the Tony Awards. It is that mix of art in tragedy, love in struggle, and triumph over adversity that reinforces what had begun in me as a very small child. I get back from a day of teaching, and it is stronger in me than ever. It doesn’t matter what things I was told I couldn’t do, or what things I didn’t do as a kid, or what opportunities I may have missed. It doesn’t matter that I flopped back and forth between writer, and musician, and actor, and teacher before I realized I could be all of those things if I wanted. 

Here is what I know. The arts matter. Love matters. Diversity matters. Opportunity matters. I have students who fit many of these categories: who are age 4, or age 64. black, white, Hispanic, Asian, immigrants, American-born, or foreign. Who are straight, or gay, or Christian, or Jewish, and students whose religion I do not know, and students who probably don’t have religion at all. Students from well-off communities, and students from the hood. The arts is a universal language of love that speaks for all, and impacts all. No matter what else happens in my life, as a teacher, I am already an arts advocate. 

The arts matter and will help us find our place. I will fight for this, again, and again, and again. Each person in this world has a calling - a role to play, and this is mine. Let’s leave a story they’ll tell, and a song they’ll sing. It matters. 

John Russell Houser, aged 59, has been identified as the perpetrator of a shooting at The Grand Theatre in Lafayette, Louisiana on the night of July 23, 2015. He used a .40-caliber handgun, firing 13 rounds, which resulted in the deaths of two females. One was pronounced dead on scene, while the other died upon arrival at the hospital. Of the nine people who were injured, two have left the hospital and one remains in critical condition. Authorities discovered wigs and glasses in his motel room, which he had been staying at for several weeks, as well as a swapped out license plate on his car, and they attribute this to an initial plan for him to flee the scene. However, due to the fast police response, police say Houser’s attempt to leave was halted, and he committed suicide inside the theatre.