Local priest reacts to ‘terrible’ theater shootings

Our Queen of Peace CNA US Catholic News 7 20 12 Queen of Peace parish in Aurora, Colo.

Aurora priest Father Mauricio Bermudez said the murderous movie theater shootings have had a "devastating" effect on the community.

"It's terrible. Everybody is just sad, shocked. People are really frustrated and some are worrying about what will happen with security around here," he told CNA on July 20.

Fr. Bermudez is a parochial vicar at Aurora's Queen of Peace parish, the Catholic church closest to the Century Aurora 16 Theater where a gunman killed 12 people and wounded 59 more during a premiere showing of "The Dark Knight Rises" early Friday morning.

"I'm really sorry about what happened," the priest said. "I don't understand why that happened and why this guy did the things he did."

He is not yet aware if anyone he knows was injured or killed in the shooting.

"I'm very sad for all the people who died," he said. "At least for now, I can offer my prayers and my support to all of them, especially the families that lost their members."

Fr. Bermudez himself went to an early showing of the movie, but at another cinema.

"Now I'm really concerned about what the culture is becoming and the violence we are promoting, in one way or another," he told CNA.

Queen of Peace will host a 5 p.m. Mass on Friday with the new Archbishop of Denver Samuel J. Aquila, who was installed July 18.

"We want to pray for all the victims," Fr. Bermudez said.

Federal authorities have identified James Holmes, 24, as the suspected gunman. The gunman wore a gas mask and set off gas canisters in the theater before opening fire. He wore a bullet-resistant vest and used several weapons.

The suspect told police he had explosives in his apartment five miles from the theater. Police have evacuated nearby apartments and say his apartment is rigged with explosive devices and trip wires.

Holmes, a graduate of a San Diego high school, was a graduate student in neuroscience at the University of Colorado-Denver. He was in the process of withdrawing from classes, according to the Denver Post.

Archbishop Aquila and auxiliary Bishop James D. Conley released a July 20 statement saying they are "shocked and saddened" by the shootings.

"We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters cast into that darkness. They do not stand alone. As Catholic bishops, we 'weep with those who weep'," they said.

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