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Veronica had just started swimming lessons on Tuesday, Dalton said.

“She was excited about life as she should be. She’s a 6-year-old girl,” her great aunt said.

Another victim, 27-year-old Matt McQuinn, was killed after diving in front of his girlfriend and her older brother to shield them from the gunfire, said his family’s attorney, Rob Scott of Dayton, Ohio.

Alex Sullivan had planned a weekend of fun, to ring in his 27th birthday with friends at the special midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” and then celebrate his first wedding anniversary on Sunday.

Late Friday, Sullivan’s family confirmed that police told them he was among those killed.

“He was a very, very good young man,” said Sullivan’s uncle, Joe Loewenguth. “He always had a smile, always made you laugh. He had a little bit of comic in him.”

Oates said Holmes used a military-style semi-automatic rifle, a shotgun and a pistol to open fire on the unsuspecting theater-goers. He had bought the weapons at local gun stores within the last two months. He also recently purchased 6,000 rounds of ammunition over the Internet, the chief said.

The suspect’s stellar academic record, apparent shy demeanor and lack of a criminal background made the attack even more difficult to fathom.

It also wasn’t known why the suspect chose a movie theater to stage the assault, or whether he intended some twisted, symbolic link to the film’s violent scenes.

The Batman movie, the last in the trilogy starring Christian Bale, opened worldwide Friday with midnight showings in the U.S. The plot has the villain Bane facing Bale’s Caped Crusader with a nuclear weapon that could destroy all of fictional Gotham.

The Dark Knight Rises” earned $30.6 million in Friday morning midnight screenings, and, according to industry estimates, roughly $75-77 million on the day. That put it on track for a weekend total of around $165 million, which would be the second highest opening weekend ever, following “The Avengers.”

Warner Bros. has announced it would forgo the usual revenue reports until Monday out of respect for the victims. Sony, Disney and Universal also said they would delay reporting box office receipts until Monday, a day later than the routine Sunday releases for Hollywood.

Holmes had his hair painted red and “he said he was the Joker, obviously the enemy of Batman,” New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said on Friday. Oates would not confirm that information, although he said he had spoken to Kelly.

Near the entrance to the theater’s parking lot, a makeshift memorial of 12 candles sat in a row alongside piles of flowers. Up the hill from the theater, about 20 pastors led a vigil for 350 people, some hugging and crying. A sign read, “7/20. Gone Not Forgotten.”

A federal law enforcement official said Holmes bought a ticket to the movie, went into the theater as part of the crowd and propped open an exit door as the movie was playing. The suspect then donned protective ballistic gear and opened fire, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the investigation.

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