4 dead after armed standoff at Aurora, Colo., townhome

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AURORA, Colo. -- Four people, including an armed suspect, died during an hours-long police standoff Saturday at a Colorado townhome, authorities said.

An Aurora police department SWAT team responded after shots were heard at the townhome at 3 a.m., said Aurora police Sgt. Cassidee Carlson. Investigators said three people, all adults, appeared to have been killed before officers arrived.

The shootings occurred about four miles southeast of the Aurora Mall, where 12 people were killed and dozens wounded by a gunman at a midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises" on July 20.

The suspect shot at police at 8:15 a.m. and was killed during a shootout when officers stormed the home about 45 minutes later, Carlson said. It wasn't known if officers shot the suspect or if he shot himself.

A fifth person escaped unharmed before officers arrived and reported that she saw three people inside the home who "appeared lifeless," Carlson said.

The sergeant declined to elaborate about the woman's escape.

A motive for the killings was unknown. Police wearing gloves and carrying evidence bags were going over the crime scene.

"We're just getting in there with our crime scene detectives, so obviously we'll have to determine if it was our rounds or his rounds," Carlson said.

Police declined to release the name of the suspect or victims.

Officers evacuated neighbors during the standoff and used a bullhorn to communicate with the gunman, urging him to surrender.

A large front window was missing in the modest two-story townhome, the window's mini-blinds in disarray. Bullet holes marked two upstairs windows. Neighbors milled about outside.

The man charged in the July 20 Aurora Mall shooting, James Holmes, goes to court Monday for a preliminary hearing in which prosecutors will lay out their case against him.

Aurora, just east of Denver, is one of Colorado's largest and most diverse cities with more than 335,000 residents. It is home to Buckley Air Force Base as well as the sprawling University of Colorado Health Sciences Center campus.

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Associated Press writer Thomas Peipert contributed to this story.


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