Huffpost Crime

9gag Users' Posts 'Egging On' Colorado Theater Shooter Likely A Hoax [UPDATE]

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[UPDATE]: 9gag.com has responded to the alleged posts, telling The Huffington Post that they are indeed a hoax and do not exist:

The Colorado ‘Dark Knight’ shooting is a devastating tragedy, and our thoughts and prayers go out the victims and their families. When we initially heard the rumor that one of our users may have been involved, we did an immediate and thorough search of the site and found absolutely zero evidence that any of the alleged posts ever appeared on 9GAG. Any reports otherwise are completely untrue and we ask your help in putting this incredibly insensitive hoax to rest. Our hearts go out to the victims and their families and, as the investigation continues, we will certainly help in any way we can.

-- Kim Barsi, 9gag.com representative

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Did message board users at 9gag.com taunt the Colorado theater shooter in the weeks leading up to this morning's massacre?

All signs point to no.

A screenshot of two alleged posts is going viral today (photos below), appearing to make light of the horrific shooting at midnight in a crowded Denver theater that killed 12 and injured dozens more. Rumors that users "egged on" a 9gag poster who was threatening to "shoot up" the theater are likely part of a hoax.

Here's one example of the rumor, which refers to the shooting suspect, James Holmes:
abovetopsecret comment

"The whole 9gag community egged him on and gave him tips on what to wear, etc.," wrote the blogger. "They give [sic] him tips on sharp-shooting and sent him messages on how to take as much lifes [sic] as possible."

Later, two pictures made the rounds on Facebook and Twitter featuring alleged posts by 9gag users. One appears to poke fun at the shooter, with a picture of a theater and the line, "TOMORROW I WILL KILL EVERYONE DURING THE NEW BATMAN PREMIER IN COLORADO/PEOPLE WILL DIE/FOR THE GLORY OF LE 9GAG ARMY !!!"

tdkr sacrifice

Then, a picture surfaced of an alleged post that reads, "WE DID IT! WE GOT HIM TO ACTUALLY SHOOT IN THE THEATRE!"

9gag reaction

But as Gawker points out, they're probably fake. Forums like 9gag and 4chan are known for churning out hoaxes in the wake of big news events.

From Gawker:

"I am 99 percent certain this is fake. Because this is an old 4chan trick. Often after a notable shooting happens, 4chan users spread fake screenshots that show the perpetrator was a 4chan user and had posted of his plans beforehand on 4chan. Recently, for example a 4chan user trolled the media by pretending to be posting from inside a home that was besieged by police. It's sort of an instant online urban legend."

Still, the pictures are drawing anger and sadness from YouTube, Facebook and Twitter users. Some now even blame 9gag for the murders, in which 24-year-old James E. Holmes allegedly strapped on a bullet-proof vest and used several weapons to systematically kill as many people in the Aurora theater as he could.

Though the flak directed at 9gag is likely unwarranted, the discussion has already begun. One YouTube user, under a news video covering the event, wrote, "WHY DID YOU DO THIS, 9GAG?"

youtube comment

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@ HuffPostPol : Obama: Scripture says that he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more...

@ HuffPostPol : Obama: We can all understand what it would be like to have someone that we love taken from us in this fashion

@ HuffPostPol : Obama: I also had the chance to give folks some hugs and to shed some tears ... and also to share some laughs.

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The AP reports:

The images brought it all back for survivors of the 1999 Columbine massacre. The blood. The tears. The confusion and the heartache, the elusive search for a reason why.

Paralyzed in the Columbine shootings, Anne Marie Hochhalter, now 30, says friends still reach out to alert her to prepare for disturbing images on the news. She got a text message Friday morning when she woke up. Warning, it said. There was another one, this time close to home.

Hochhalter took a deep breath and turned on the TV.

"My heart just fell," Hochhalter said Sunday. "It brought back a lot – flashbacks from that day. At the time I was so hurt I wasn't watching the news, you know, watching it like other people were. But this time, I was right there, seeing it all."

Columbine students who survived what in 1999 was the worst school massacre in U.S. history are re-living their own experiences. And they're banding together to try to help. On Facebook and by phone, they are reaching out to people who witnessed Friday's early-morning slayings of 12 people at a movie theater in Aurora.

Young people were victims and witnesses in both shootings. The Columbine survivors are telling those at the movie theater that the road ahead of them won't be easy.

Click here to read more.

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Reuters reports:

President Barack Obama's re-election team, maintaining an unofficial time-out on full-scale campaigning following a deadly shooting at a movie theater, said on Sunday it will keep its advertisements off the airwaves in Colorado for the rest of the week.

Obama and his Republican rival Mitt Romney both set aside the previously harsh tone of the November 6 election campaign to speak soothingly to the nation on Friday, after the shooting rampage that killed 12 at a midnight movie screening outside Denver.

Click here to read more.

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@ JordanGhawi : Sat down with President Obama. He has been incredible. He too has agreed not to mention the shooter's name.

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The AP reports:

President Barack Obama dashed to Colorado on Sunday to meet with families of those gunned down in a movie theater and to hear from state and local officials about the shooting that left 12 people dead and dozens more injured.

Air Force One touched down at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora late Sunday afternoon for the president's hastily arranged 2 1/2-hour visit, which includes a private meeting with the victims' loved ones and perhaps a public comment about the shooting early Friday morning at a busy multiplex.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan and Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates were among those who greeted Obama at Buckley.

The president is expected to speak at 7:30 p.m. ET.

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@ BreakingNews : Police in Aurora, Colo. say shooting suspect James Holmes is not cooperating with authorities - @SkyNewsBreak

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ABC on Sunday aired a clip of shooting suspect James Eagen Holmes. The clip showed Holmes discussing the idea of "temporal illusion" at science camp when he was 18.

"It's an illusion that allows you to change the past," he says.

To watch the video, click here.

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Authorities have identified the 12 victims who were killed early Friday morning in the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting.

The deceased included an aspiring sports reporter, a 6-year-old girl and a man celebrating his birthday.

For more about the victims, read the AP's report.

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Audio of the first hour of the police and fire response to the Colorado shooting was made available this weekend via RadioReference.com.

To listen to the recordings, click here (warning: extremely graphic content).

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James Holmes' gun jammed during the attack, a law enforcement source told the Associated Press.

The claim was made based on leftover bullets found in a magazine at the crime scene, the official said. The jam likely caused the suspect to change weapons in the middle of the attack.

More on this story here.

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@ KyleClark : Aurora PD reaffirms NO 2nd #theatershooting suspect: "An associate of Holmes was interviewed... no reason to believe that he is involved."

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Local station FOX31 reports:

Sources tell Justin Joseph someone made either a call or a text from the person of interest’s phone threatening violence if James Egan Holmes was not released from jail. That call prompted police to issue an alert to find and detain him.

Click here to read more.

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@ ProducerMatthew : KDVR report: Second "person of interest" sought by police in Aurora, Colorado mass shooting - http://t.co/ICWoWzKS

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From the AP:

Holmes apparently had prepared the attack at the Aurora theater well in advance, receiving multiple deliveries by mail for four months to his home and school and buying thousands rounds of ammunition on the Internet, Oates said.

"He had a high volume of deliveries," Oates said. "We think this explains how he got his hands on the magazine, ammunition," he said, as well as the rigged explosives in his apartment.

"What we're seeing here is evidence of some calculation and deliberation," Oates added.

Read more here.

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From HuffPost's Sam Stein:

The White House announced on Saturday night that the president will make a stop in Aurora this Sunday. The guidance, which does not say whether or not President Obama will make public remarks (as he did following the Giffords shooting), is copied below:

On Sunday, the President will depart the White House en route Colorado. The departure from the South Lawn and arrival at Buckley Air Force Base are open press. In Aurora, Colorado, the President will visit with families of victims of the shooting as well as local officials. In the evening, the President will depart Aurora, Colorado en route San Francisco, California. The departure from Buckley Air Force Base and arrival at San Francisco International Airport are open press.

The President will spend the night in San Francisco.

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@ denverpost : EXCLUSIVE: President Barack Obama to visit Aurora #theatershooting victims and families Sunday: http://t.co/onz2ojZM

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The New York Times has more details about James Holmes, including details from his day-to-day life:

"...Mr. Holmes struggled through his first academic year at the University of Colorado, Denver, and had dropped out by this spring. Neighbors from his gang-ridden neighborhood in Aurora described him as a solitary figure, recognizable as one of the few white residents of a largely Hispanic neighborhood, and always alone. Alone as he bought beer and liquor at neighborhood shops, as he ate burritos at La California restaurant or got his car fixed at the Grease Monkey auto shop. Alone as he rode his bicycle through the streets."

Read more here.

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@ jeffrossen : BREAKING: All hazards have been removed from James Holmes' apartment...per Aurora Police.

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@ BreakingNews : Colorado shooting suspect being held in solitary confinement for his own protection, says Arapahoe Co. sheriff

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The AP has a complete list of Aurora shooting victims. View it here.

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From TMZ:

A profile on a popular sex website appearing to be that of Colorado shooting suspect James Holmes is authentic ... so say sources connected to the website.

As TMZ first reported, the profile appeared on the website adultfriendfinder.com just days before the "Dark Knight Rises" massacre. The profile included a cryptic message on the top which reads, "Will you visit me in prison?"

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HuffPost's Sharon Carty reports:

When Peter Burns' cell phone rang at 2:15 a.m. Friday, he glanced at the caller ID with eyes blurred from sleep, and decided to ignore it.

It was Jordan Ghawi, a family friend. He figured he'd just call him back.

But at 5:15, his phone rang again. This time colleagues from a radio station where he used to work in San Antonio were calling to tell him his friend, and their former intern Jessica Ghawi had been killed the night before at a theater in Aurora, Colo.

At a midnight showing Friday of the latest Batman movie in Aurora, Colo., a gunman, identified by police as 24-year-old James Holmes, opened fire killing 12 people and wounding 58.

Burns, a local morning radio talk show host with Mile High Sports in Denver, had to make a decision: Call out of work, or go on the air. He decided to fill his show talking about his friend to take the focus off the shooter.

"I decided I'll do every single interview if it means we can't get this coward any airtime," Burns told The Huffington Post.

Full story here.

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Via The Denver Post:

Sometime late Thursday, Alex Sullivan posted this message on his Facebook page: "#TheDarkKnightRises OMG COUNTING down till it start cant wait going to be the best birthday ever."

Sullivan died on his 27th birthday. He and seven co-workers from a Red Robin restaurant had gone to the premiere. All eight were injured.

Full story here.

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Via HuffPost Denver:

At a Saturday press conference, Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates provided details of Holmes' booby-trapped apartment. The place was designed "to kill whoever entered it."

"It was going to be a police officer... we sure as hell are angry," Oates said. "It's mind-boggling for me."

Two devices were set off in the afternoon, and the evidence "will continue to take some time" to gather, Oates said.

Read more here.

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@ AP : Police chief: Suspect in Colorado theater shooting booby-trapped his apartment specifically to target police: http://t.co/OXwfVOcu -CC

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@ denverpost : UPDATE: Officials hope to let neighbors of #theatershooting suspect's apartment into homes Sunday: http://t.co/aqhDcyrM

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@ AP : BREAKING: FBI says anyone who had opened door to apartment of theater shooting suspect would have been seriously injured or killed

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@ AP : BREAKING: Aurora police chief believes major threats were eliminated from shooting suspect's apartment

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@ nydailynews : Jailed shooting suspect James Holmes is 'spitting on guards,' thinks he's in a movie http://t.co/hQTx8ybQ #Aurora

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@ NBCNews : People with same name as #Aurora, CO shooter hounded on social media http://t.co/pqxLFOC1

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