Bomb experts are attempting to enter the booby-trapped home of a suspected gunman in Colorado, following a deadly rampage at a movie theater. The attack, during a screening of the new Batman film, left 12 dead.
Police, fire crews and bomb squad experts began trying to enter the apartment of suspect James Holmes again on Saturday morning, following failed attempts on Friday to access the premises.
Reporters from the AFP and Reuters news agencies have said they heard an explosion at the apartment, stemming from a police operation to safely enter the premises. The blast was conducted by placing a tube in the apartment with a robot and then detonating it remotely.
Officials had warned the process of getting into the property might include a controlled detonation and possibly a fire.
"It is a very vexing problem how to enter that apartment safely," Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said earlier.
Meanwhile, friends and family of the victims are mourning the deaths of 12 moviegoers. Armed with an assault rifle, shotgun and pistol, the gunman set off two smoke bombs before opening fire inside the dark theatre at the midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises" early Friday.
Thirty people remained hospitalized on Saturday, 11 in critical condition.
The suspect, Holmes, was a graduate student with a reportedly solid academic record and shy demeanor, making the attack difficult to fathom. Police have not yet discussed any possible motives for the attack. The suspect reportedly dyed his hair red and called himself "the Joker" in a reference to Batman's comic-book nemesis.
Holmes is expected in court on Monday.
A makeshift memorial has been set up next to the entrance of the theater's parking lot, with 12 candles and piles of flowers. A sign reads, "7/20. Gone Not Forgotten."
Police had the unenviable task late Friday of going door to door with the list of victims' names, notifying families who were awaiting word on their loved ones.
On Saturday, President Barack Obama promised justice for the victims and their families. "The federal government stands ready to do everything necessary to bring whoever's responsible for this heinous crime to justice," he said.
Authorities are expected to provide details of the operation to enter the suspect's apartment later on Saturday.
tm/rc (AP, AFP, Reuters)