Evidence shows months of plotting ahead of Colorado shooting: police

Deliveries received by the man accused of
committing a movie house massacre at a
Denver-area premiere of the new
“Batman” film suggest months of
“calculation and deliberation” leading up
to the shooting rampage that killed 12
people, police said on Saturday.
Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates discussed the
shipments as local and federal authorities
completed the painstaking process of disarming
suspect James Holmes’ apartment, which was
found booby-trapped with explosive devices
after the shooting at a multiplex theatre several
miles away.
On Saturday, the local coroner’s officer released
the names of the 12 people killed. As evening
fell, residents gathered at a local high school to
mourn the passing of a classmate who
graduated in May.
“We’ve become aware that the suspect over the
last four months received a high volume of
deliveries to both his work and home
addresses,” Oates said. “This begins to explain
how he got his hands on all the magazines and
“We also think it begins to explain some of the
materials he had in his apartment,” Oates said.
“What we’re seeing here is evidence of some
calculation and deliberation.”
A gunman wearing a full suit of tactical body
armour, helmet and gas mask opened fire at a
packed midnight showing of “The Dark Knight
Rises” early on Friday morning, killing 12 people
and wounding 58. Holmes, 24, was arrested
minutes later in a parking lot behind the cinema.
Among the dead were a 6-year-old girl who had
just learned to swim, a young man celebrating
his 27th birthday and an aspiring sportscaster
who missed by minutes being on the scene of a
Toronto mall shooting earlier this summer.
The mass shooting stunned the nation, evoking
memories of the 1999 massacre at Columbine
High School in Littleton, 17 miles (27 km) from
Aurora, where two students opened fire and
killed 12 students and a teacher.
It also reverberated in the U.S. presidential race.
Both President Barack Obama and his
Republican rival, Mitt Romney, toned down their
campaigns on Friday, pulled ads from Colorado
and dedicated scheduled events to the victims.
Obama was scheduled to travel to Colorado on
Sunday to honour the shooting victims, an
administration official said.
Those who witnessed the shooting told of a
horrific scene, with dazed victims bleeding from
bullet wounds, spitting up blood and crying for
“I slipped on some blood and landed on a lady. I
shook her and said, ‘We need to go; get up,’ and
there was no response, so I presumed she was
dead,” said Tanner Coon, 17.
When police arrested Holmes, he was armed
with an AR-15 assault rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun
and a Glock .40-caliber handgun, Oates said.
Police found an additional Glock .40-caliber
handgun in his car, parked just outside the
theatre’s rear emergency exit, he said.
Police said Holmes had purchased the weapons
legally at three area gun stores in the last 60
days and bought 6,000 rounds of ammunition
online, including a 100-round drum magazine for
an assault rifle.
Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said
the suspect was being held in solitary
confinement to protect him from other
prisoners, a routine move in high-profile cases.
Holmes, who authorities said had dyed his hair
red and called himself “the Joker” in a reference
to Batman’s comic-book nemesis, was due to
make an initial court appearance on Monday.
Little has surfaced from Holmes’s past to
suggest he was capable of such violence.
Until last month, he was studying for a doctoral
degree in neuroscience at the University of
Colorado’s Anschutz Medical School, a few
blocks from his apartment.
A top student, he had earned a prestigious
federal grant from the National Institutes for
Health to support his studies. The grants are
intended for “outstanding neuroscientists and
academicians who will make significant
contributions to neurobiology,” university
spokeswoman Jacque Montgomery said.
Holmes had spent a year in the doctoral
program, where a fellow student described him
as quiet and studious, before he abruptly
withdrew from the university last month. He
gave no reason for his departure.
Holmes kept a low profile off campus as well.
He was not active under his own name on social
media sites like Facebook and both the landlord
and fellow tenants of his red-brick apartment
building said they knew little about him.
Neighbours who met him in the local bar
described him as relaxed and friendly, though a
few recalled him displaying brief flashes of
anger over seemingly trivial exchanges.
The University of Colorado Hospital, which
treated some of the shooting victims, said 10
people had been released and five remained in
critical condition. The Medical Center of Aurora
said four of its seven patients remained in the
intensive care unit, while three others were on
the main trauma floor.
A memorial of flowers, candles and stuffed
animals quickly sprung up where the shooting
rampage took place. A handwritten sign read:
“7/20 gone not forgotten.”
At the Saturday evening memorial service at
Gateway High School, shooting victim and
recent graduate A.J. Boik was remembered as
beloved former student and talented artist who
was bound for college in the fall.
“He was a very big part of this community,”
said Tami Avery, whose son played sports with
Boik. “He will be dearly missed.”
After the shooting rampage, police went to
Holmes’ apartment, where they found booby
traps that prevented investigators from entering
for two days and forced officials to evacuate the
apartment complex and five nearby buildings.
Sources familiar with the investigation said that
some 30 shells filled with gunpowder were
spread through the 800-square-foot apartment
and wired to a control box in the kitchen.
There were also at least two containers filled
with “incendiary liquids” intended to fuel a fire
from the initial explosions, and an undetermined
amount of bullets meant to ricochet around the
“Given the amount of explosives that were
there, if they detonated ideally, you would have
had a very ample explosion with an ensuing
thermal effect from the incendiary liquids that
would have destroyed that apartment complex,”
a law enforcement official said.
Local and federal bomb experts used a remote-
controlled robot to disable two trip wires, then
detonated a tube known as a “water shot” to
disable the control box. By Saturday afternoon,
police had removed the last of the devices,
packed them in sand in a dump truck and drove
them away.
Authorities said they were working carefully to
preserve any evidence in the apartment, which
could shed light on the motives for a crime that
stunned Aurora and much of the nation
“This apartment was designed to kill whoever
entered it,” Oates said.

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