News continues to move quickly as the country seeks to make sense of one of the largest shooting sprees in US history. Over the weekend, authorities shed new light on James Holmes’ plot and more victims come forward to give their account of the attack that left 12 dead and 58 wounded.
On Friday, Holmes entered the midnight premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Theater 9 of the Century 16 movieplex in Aurora, Colorado clad in a ballistic helmet, protective gear, black gloves and a gas mask. He rolled a couple of canisters of gas down the aisles and then began opening fire on the crowd. As the audience dispersed in panic, 911 calls brought police swiftly to the scene where Holmes was arrested without a struggle. His hair dyed red, he told police that he was The Joker — a psychopathic villain from the Batman series.
Holmes, 24, allegedly told police that he had booby-trapped his apartment with explosives. Authorities evacuated neighboring apartment buildings before an FBI bomb squad deployed robots to begin the arduous work of disarming the tripwires placed throughout the home. By Saturday, investigators were able to safely enter the home and collect evidence. No motive has been discussed publicly at this time.
A native of San Diego, Holmes graduated UC-Riverside with honors and a degree in neuroscience in 2010. In 2011, Holmes began Ph.D. studies at the University of Colorado medical school in Aurora. In June of this year, he quit school — giving no reason according to a school spokesperson. Holmes had received many packages over the past month, likely materials he would use in his attack. Holmes reportedly made recent purchases of 4 guns and over 6,000 rounds of ammunition. People who knew Holmes did not suspect he could commit such a heinous act. Neighbor Jackie Mitchell told CNN Holmes was “nerdish”: “You would never guess he was a violent guy.”
People who knew Holmes in San Diego described Holmes as a clean-cut, quiet young man interested in science. In 2008, he served as a counselor at Camp Max Strauss — a camp for needy children run by Big Brothers Big Sisters. Holmes’ family is reportedly devastated by the events. Parents Arlene and James Holmes have not spoken publicly since the incident, but have released a statement saying: “Our hearts go out to those who were involved in this tragedy and to the families and friends of those involved… We are still trying to process this information and we appreciate that people will respect our privacy.
The deceased victims ranged in age from 6 to 51 will never be able to tell their stories, but survivors emerged with terrifying tales of the shooting. 19-year-old Emma Goose told CNN.COM that she thought the masked man throwing gas canisters into the crowd was part of the night’s entertainment — until he started firing live ammunition. “Oh my God, is this really happening” ran through her mind before diving for cover. Goose lifted her head to see Holmes walking up the aisle firing shots at random people. Eventually she crawled across the aisle and found a man with a head wound: “He was grazed but bleeding a lot,” she recalled. Goose moved the man out of the theater to safety.
Having never before recorded a brush with the law more serious than a speeding ticket, Holmes now finds himself incarcerated in the Arapahoe County Jail. His initial court appearance is scheduled for Monday.
Reverberations from the massacre have been felt in all arenas of American life. Both Presidential candidates pulled their political ads off the air in Colorado, and have cancelled campaign events. President Obama planned an impromptu trip to Aurora to meet with victims’ families.