Reddit covers the Colorado movie theater shooting

In the early morning hours Friday, "Peener13" started a thread on Reddit called "Someone came into our theater at the midnight release of Dark Knight Rises and began opening fire. Who here on Reddit can help me calm my nerves?" In the hours since, others have commented and added what they know, and Peener13 has edited her post to answer people's questions.

As I write this, there are more than 4,000 comments on her post. Peener13 is handling the attention with community-stoking grace, writing, "While this is not the way that I would have liked to make it to the front page, I'm happy that reddit has reacted in such a way to keep everyone, including myself, up to date." And, this being Reddit, she's offered some dark humor: "At least I won't be able to leak any spoilers."

Another Redditor called "themurderator" says he was at the showing, too, and he uploaded pictures that, he says, show his wound and bloody T-shirt. "i’m actually reconsidering doing an AMA [Ask Me Anything, a Reddit feature]. i have a horrible feeling it would devolve into something i would not want to have anything to do with," he writes.

A user named quepasacontigo has replied to the thread saying he lives across the street from accused shooter James Holmes. He said a friend lives in the same building as Holmes and "hit me up as soon as the cops got there and started to evac everyone."

Quepasacontigo posted photos of police preparing to enter an apartment building.

The number of bomb vans has doubled. They wouldn't send this many cops to the area unless there were actually explosives in there. They are currently taking boxes of mystery items out of the complex. A dude in a full blown bomb suit just entered the building.

The cross section is 17th and Peoria in Aurora, CO. Ironically right across the street from the Denver medical campus/hospital where most of the victims have been taken.

The pictures are taken from pretty far away. "You'll have to zoom in to see what's going on, I can't get any closer due to the dudes with assault rifles patrolling the street," quepasacontigo writes.

Another Redditor, integ3r, has put together a description and time line of the shootings, compiled from police scanners and other sources.

Shooting at the AMC Century Cinema: maplocal police scanner. Bomb wasmay have been confirmed. It certainly sounded like it. Apparently a bomb may have blown up a part of a theater at the Dark Knight Rises premiere.Although the news isn't corroborating this right now, it definitely sounded like it on the scanner. Actually, it was probably the tear gas canisters.

The Atlantic's Megan Garber writes of the time line:

It is comprehensive in every sense, and a peculiar mix of objectivity and empathy: The facts here speak for themselves, and yet the entire timeline itself is an act of empathy -- a gesture of shared humanity expressed through information.

BuzzFeed's John Herrman tracked down integ3r, whose real name is Morgan Jones.

He posted a link to the story on Reddit — he was the first — and began posting updates, pulling in new information, correcting old information, and addressing questions from other users. By virtue of speed, his familiarity with the area, and the promotion other users, he fast became the go-to source in the story. "I stayed up all night, and I am exhausted now," says Jones, "but it feels like I'm helping out people who need to know this stuff."

Another user posted a link to some cell phone footage that appears to be from the shooting. You can see a man in a blood-soaked shirt and a person in a Batman costume leaving the theater.

On Tuesday, Mathew Ingram compared how reports of a mass shooting in Toronto were covered by Reddit and news outlets. Reddit's account, he wrote, "doesn’t look or read anything like a normal news story — instead of names, it has links to tweets and individual Twitter accounts, and there isn’t much of a story at all, just a recitation of facts or alleged facts." But, he said:

it’s easy to see how it could be the foundation of exactly that kind of process — one in which anyone, journalist or not, can contribute information that can then be verified or pulled together into a story.

Related: How news spread of Colorado theater shooting | Jessica Ghawi, ‘aspiring sportscaster,’ dies in Aurora shootingABC News speculates theater shooter James Holmes linked to Tea Party | The Colorado shooting and the crowdsourced future of news (Mathew Ingram/GigaOm)

How to: 7 tips for covering the Colorado theater shooting6 ways journalists can cope when covering traumatic stories like the Colorado theater shooting

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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