World gets first look at 'Batman' suspect

2012-07-23 18:41

Aurora - Looking dazed and with bright orange hair, the man accused of killing 12 and wounding 58 in a shooting rampage in a Colorado cinema appeared on Monday in court for the first time.

James Holmes, wide-eyed and unshaven, his head bobbing slightly, appeared not to speak during the brief hearing. He will be formally charged next Monday.

Authorities say the 24-year-old former graduate student is refusing to cooperate, and it could take months to learn what prompted one of the worst mass shootings in US history.

A prosecutor said her office is considering pursuing the death penalty. Eighteenth Judicial District Attorney Carol Chambers said a decision will be made in consultation with victims' families, and that could take months.

It likely will be at least a year before Holmes would stand trial, Chambers said.

Holmes has been held in solitary confinement since the shooting. He is being held on suspicion of first-degree murder, and he could face additional counts of aggravated assault and weapons violations.

In response to Holmes' demeanour in the courtroom, Chambers said she has no information on whether he is on medication.

Relatives of the shooting victims leaned forward in their seats to catch their first glimpse of Holmes. Some stared at him the entire hearing. Two women held hands tightly, one shaking her head.

Holmes began buying guns nearly two months before the shooting and recently bought 6 000 rounds of ammunition over the internet, Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said.

During the attack, Holmes allegedly set off gas canisters and used a semi-automatic rifle, a shotgun and a pistol to open fire, Oates said.

The semi-automatic assault rifle jammed during the attack, forcing the gunman to switch to another gun with less firepower, a federal law enforcement official told The Associated Press.

That malfunction and weapons switch might have saved some lives.

Holmes' apartment was filled with trip wires, explosive devices and unknown liquids, requiring police, FBI officials and bomb squad technicians to evacuate surrounding buildings while spending most of Saturday disabling the booby traps.

Investigators have said they found a Batman mask inside the apartment.

Bizarre message

As authorities rushed to piece together Holmes' background, the owner of a gun range told The Associated Press that Holmes applied to join the club last month but never became a member because of his behaviour and a "bizarre" message on his voicemail.

When Lead Valley Range owner Glenn Rotkovich called to invite Holmes to a mandatory orientation, he said he heard a message on Holmes' voicemail that was "guttural, freakish at best".

He told his staff to watch out for Holmes at the orientation and not to accept him into the club, Rotkovich said.

Officials at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus were looking into whether Holmes, a former doctoral student in neuroscience, used his position in a graduate programme to collect hazardous materials.

Holmes' reasons for quitting the doctoral program in June remained a mystery. He recently took an intense, three-part oral exam that marks the end of the first year.

University officials would not say if he passed, citing privacy concerns.

Ritchie Duong, a friend who has known Holmes for more than a decade, told the Los Angeles Times that he last saw Holmes in December and he seemed fine.

Academics came easily to Holmes, Duong said. "I had one college class with him, and he didn't even have to take notes or anything."

The family's pastor recalled a shy boy who was driven to succeed academically.

"He wasn't an extrovert at all. If there was any conversation, it would be because I initiated it, not because he did," said Jerald Borgie, who last spoke with Holmes about six years ago.

Sunday was a day for healing and remembrance in Aurora. Several thousand people attended a prayer vigil, and President Barack Obama visited with families of the victims.

Obama said he told the families that "all of America and much of the world is thinking about them".

  • jj.jeno.1 - 2012-07-23 18:52

    I bet the cops also gave him a bit of "a working over".

      chaplinncharlie - 2012-07-23 20:25

      Strange how News24 delete comments when it's suites them... Again i can swear i read this article on another News Page...

      matthew.swanepoel.9 - 2012-07-23 20:37

      He is obviously trying to imitate the joker! Crazy bugger!

      wt.echoridgetimes - 2012-07-24 12:07

      was the movie any good though?

  • Henk - 2012-07-23 19:16

    Now all the Anti gun people or going to blame guns. Never ever the people who kill. I hope the put him in the chair where he belongs!

  • mario.dippenaar - 2012-07-23 19:37

    I hope the psychologists are able to pinpoint the root cause for this insanity. hopefully we will understand this situation better and be able to prevent future episodes.

  • talio.vindico - 2012-07-23 19:42

    He wants to plead insanity. Give the f****r the electric chair!

      devon.riley.52 - 2012-07-23 19:45

      He doesn't have a hope in hell, he planned this months in advance.

  • andrew.harrison.7587 - 2012-07-23 19:52

    what was the point and where does so much hatred come from? i hope the death penalty is not even an option, let the prison life show him how bad it can really be!?

  • luvo.luvos - 2012-07-23 20:03

    I think an intelligent assessment needs to be made as to why people turn up like this. Obviously this cruel act was motivated anger at things like rejection at childhood by parents, peers or being looked down at and being made inferior. There are people out there who do their best to make one feel completely inferior like some of News24 bloggers. This man decided he had enough of this treatment and he decided to spray some lead around.

      Lacrimose - 2012-07-23 20:12

      Or maybe he's just off his head and living in his own reality

  • jacodup - 2012-07-23 20:03

    He thought of himself as "The Joker" - that part is obvious. A PhD student in neuroscience? We study what afflicts us personally, especially in the neuro and social sciences, as it has resonance with our person and personalities. He might also honestly believe that his actions was just "make believe", and as in the movies, death occurs only on the big screen ... and no-one would come to any "real" harm. Just my thoughts around the subject.

      lara.vanrooyen.1 - 2012-07-23 20:12

      I'm wondering why his mother immediately admitted that her son was the 'right man'. I think there might have been an existing mental illness or maybe he has done things which concerned her while he was still in their house.

      Lacrimose - 2012-07-23 20:13

      He's 24 - I think he is old enough to understand the difference. If his neurons are wired they way most of ours are.

  • gregory.stow - 2012-07-23 20:21

    its simple just give him the bullet will save millions

  • Barefoot - 2012-07-23 20:34

    About a year before he could go on trial- say the same thing about the S.A justice system i bet the comments would have been way different.

  • steve.dupreez - 2012-07-23 20:37

    Scary dude!!

  • Gregory Jurgens - 2012-07-23 21:13

    Holy mother of god. This dude is f*^^ked up. :-) He can pray, God will forgive him. Americans are all f$$ked up. long live Africa . I thought malema was mad.

  • Lacrimose - 2012-07-23 21:31

    Well, very rarely are these off-the-rails people taken alive. So that's a 1st. He's not talking so that complicates things. We still might not ever find out WHY. What we must accept is that for all the studies in the world, the brain and mind are the least understood. We can track the teensiest things now through genomes but eish, the mind and it's gazillions of neural highways and by-ways - we're nowhere close to comprehending. IMHO even though this guy was caught alive, we'll still never find out why. Some people's brains just go off in another direction that we're unable to comprehend or relate to.

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