The highly-anticipated Batman trilogy closer The Dark Knight Rises opened on Friday morning to a tragic shooting in Aurora, Colorado, where James Holmes, 24, opened gunfire on audiences dressed as one of the film’s villains, leaving 12 dead and dozens injured. News of the massacre led Warner Bros. to cancel the Paris premiere and all associated interviews and red carpet events. "Warner Bros. is deeply saddened to learn about this shocking incident," The Dark Knight Rises producers said in a statement. "We extend our sincere sympathies to the families and loved ones of the victims at this tragic time."

Holmes, carrying up to four guns, was reportedly wearing a bulletproof vest and a gas mask, in the style of the film’s villain Bane, and had elaborately rigged his apartment with substantial explosive materials that authorities were still trying to diffuse this morning, warning that they could blow up the entire apartment building and those near it. The scene at the screening was described as chillingly reminiscent of several of the public explosions shown in the movie’s trailer.

"The suspect throws tear gas in the air, and as the tear gas appears he started shooting," a member of the audience told ABC News. "It was very hard to breathe. I told my brother to take cover. It took a while. I started seeing flashes and screaming, I just saw blood and people yelling and a quick glimpse of the guy who had a gas mask on. I was pushed out. There was chaos, we started running."

The police have not released any statements connecting the gunman’s actions to the movie, but the New York Police Department has intensified security at screenings of the third installment in all five boroughs. “As a precaution against copycats and to raise the comfort levels among movie patrons in the wake of the horrendous shooting in Colorado, the New York City Police Department is providing coverage at theaters where the 'The Dark Knight Rises' is playing,” a police commissioner reassured the public.

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