High-capacity clip was on AR-15 assault rifle used in movie theater attack

July 20, 2012

The Associated Press

(Flickr/Charlie Kindel)
This is a photo of an AR-15 assault rifle. A weapon like this was retrieved from the suspect.

WASHINGTON — The suspect in the deadly shootings in Colorado had a high capacity ammunition clip in an assault rifle used in a mass shooting at a suburban movie theater, according to a federal law enforcement official.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing investigation, said suspected shooter James Holmes had a drum-style clip in an AR-15 assault rifle used in the attack at a movie theater in Denver suburb Aurora, Colo.

Holmes is also believed to have hurled a gas canister into the theater before opening fire.

Officials believe Holmes killed a dozen people when he open fired in the crowded theater. The official said Holmes bought a ticket to the midnight showing of "The Dark Night Rises" and went into the theater with the rest of the crowd. The official said Holmes is believed to have propped open an exit door in the theater as the movie was playing, donned protective ballistic gear and opened fire.

EXAMPLE OF A DRUM MAGAZINE. Not a photograph of the one used in the attack.

(Photo via Brownells.com)

Fact Sheet:

►AR-15 was first built by ArmaLite for the U.S. armed forces

►The AR-15 was eventually adopted by the United States military under the designation M16

►Semi-automatic AR-15s for sale to civilians are internally different from the full automatic M-16

WBEZ Clarification: The AP reported the use of a "high-capacity clip."   A reader points out that rifles use "magazines," a different term than what AP uses. The reader is correct. A clip is used to feed a magazine, while a magazine is used to load cartridges into a chamber. While AP hasn't issued a correction, we can extrapolate that a 'high-capacity,' drum-style magazine was reportedly used. These magazines vary greatly on capacity, but some range from carrying 50-90 rounds a piece.