DENVER — James Eagen Holmes came from a well-tended San Diego enclave of two-story homes with red-tiled roofs, where neighbors recall him as a clean-cut, studious young man of sparing words.
Tall and dark-haired, he stared clear-eyed at the camera in a 2004 high school yearbook snapshot, wearing a white junior varsity soccer uniform – No. 16. The son of a nurse, Arlene, and a software company manager, Robert, James Holmes was a brilliant science scholar in college.
The biggest mystery surrounding the 24-year-old doctoral student was why he would have pulled on a gas mask and shot dozens of people early Friday in a suburban Denver movie theater, as police allege.
In the age of widespread social media, no trace of Holmes could be found on Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Twitter or anywhere on the Web. Either he never engaged or he scrubbed his trail.
A longtime neighbor in San Diego, where Holmes grew up, remembers only a "shy guy ... a loner" from a churchgoing family. In addition to playing soccer at Westview High School, he ran cross country.
The bookish demeanor concealed an unspooling life. Holmes struggled to find work after graduating with highest honors in spring 2010 with a neuroscience degree from the University of California, Riverside, said the neighbor, retired electrical engineer Tom Mai.
Holmes enrolled last year in a neuroscience Ph.D. program at the University of Colorado-Denver but was in the process of withdrawing, said school officials, who didn't provide a reason. The school later said in a statement that he left the program in June 2012.
As part of the advanced program in Denver, a James Holmes had been listed as making a presentation in May about Micro DNA Biomarkers in a class named "Biological Basis of Psychiatric and Neurological Disorders."
In academic achievement, "he was at the top of the top," recalled Riverside Chancellor Timothy P. White.
Holmes concentrated his study on "how we all behave," White added. "It's ironic and sad."
From a distance, Holmes' life appears unblemished, a young man with unlimited potential. There are no indications he had problems with police.
Somehow, the acclaimed student and quiet neighbor reached a point where he painted his hair red, called himself "The Joker," the green-haired villain from the Batman movies, according to New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who said he had been briefed on the matter.
Authorities say Holmes arrived at the theater dressed in black, outfitted in a gas mask, ballistic helmet, vest and leggings, black tactical gloves and protectors on his throat and groin. He was armed with an assault-style rifle, a shotgun and Glock handgun.
Police said he started his attack by tossing at least gas canisters into the theater, where he had bought a ticket for the midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises," the new Batman movie.
A federal law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing probe into the rampage, said Holmes bought four guns from retailers in the last two months.
Holmes bought his first Glock pistol in Aurora, Colo., on May 22. Six days later, he picked up a Remington shotgun in Denver. About two weeks later, he bought a .223 caliber Smith & Wesson rifle in Thornton, Colo., and then a second Glock in Denver on July 6 – 13 days before the shooting, the official said.
A high-volume drum magazine was attached to the rifle, an assault weapon, the official said. Police Chief Dan Oates said that a 100-round drum magazine for the rifle was recovered from the scene.
"I'm told by experts that with that drum magazine, he could have gotten off 50 to 60 rounds, even if it was semiautomatic, within one minute," Oates said at a news conference. "And as far as we know, it was a pretty rapid pace of fire in that theater."
Julie Adams, whose son played junior varsity soccer with Holmes, said her son remembered little about the suspect, which was unusual for the tight-knit team.
"I don't think many of the kids (teammates) knew him. He was kind of a loner," she said.
Jackie Mitchell, a furniture mover who lives several blocks from the suspect's apartment building in Colorado, said he had drinks with Holmes at a bar on Tuesday night, though he showed no sign of distress or violence.
After Holmes approached him, "we just talked about football. He had a backpack and geeky glasses and seemed like a real intelligent guy, and I figured he was one of the college students," Mitchell said.
When Mitchell saw Holmes' photo after the shooting, "the hair stood up on my back," he said. "I know this guy."
Holmes is not talking to police and has asked for a lawyer, according to a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the case. Police found jars of chemicals in Holmes' booby-trapped apartment with wires nearby, the law enforcement official said.
When he surrendered meekly in the movie house parking lot, Holmes told authorities what he'd done at his residence in the Denver suburb of Aurora, the third most populous city in Colorado.
"Our hearts go out to those who were involved in this tragedy and to the families and friends of those involved," Holmes' family said in a statement Friday. "We ask that the media respect our privacy during this difficult time."
San Diego Superior Court spokeswoman Karen Dalton said there were no records found under his name, not even for a traffic ticket. Riverside County prosecutors also have no criminal record for him, said John Hall, a spokesman for the district attorney's office.
On Friday morning, police escorted the suspect's father from the family's San Diego home. The mother stayed inside, receiving visitors who came to offer support.
San Diego police spokeswoman Lt. Andra Brown spoke to reporters in the driveway of the Holmes' home, on behalf of the family.
"As you can understand, the Holmes family is very upset about all of this," she said. "It's a tragic event and it's taken everyone by surprise."
Blood reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press writers Elliot Spagat and Julie Watson in San Diego; Eileen Sullivan, Alicia A. Caldwell and Pete Yost in Washington; Tom Hays in New York; Amy Taxin in Orange County, Calif.; Colleen Slevin in Denver; and Eric Carvin and AP researcher Judith Ausuebel in New York contributed to this report.
|@ HuffPostPol : Obama: Scripture says that he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more...|
|@ HuffPostPol : Obama: We can all understand what it would be like to have someone that we love taken from us in this fashion|
|@ HuffPostPol : Obama: I also had the chance to give folks some hugs and to shed some tears ... and also to share some laughs.|
The AP reports:
The images brought it all back for survivors of the 1999 Columbine massacre. The blood. The tears. The confusion and the heartache, the elusive search for a reason why.
Paralyzed in the Columbine shootings, Anne Marie Hochhalter, now 30, says friends still reach out to alert her to prepare for disturbing images on the news. She got a text message Friday morning when she woke up. Warning, it said. There was another one, this time close to home.
Hochhalter took a deep breath and turned on the TV.
"My heart just fell," Hochhalter said Sunday. "It brought back a lot – flashbacks from that day. At the time I was so hurt I wasn't watching the news, you know, watching it like other people were. But this time, I was right there, seeing it all."
Columbine students who survived what in 1999 was the worst school massacre in U.S. history are re-living their own experiences. And they're banding together to try to help. On Facebook and by phone, they are reaching out to people who witnessed Friday's early-morning slayings of 12 people at a movie theater in Aurora.
Young people were victims and witnesses in both shootings. The Columbine survivors are telling those at the movie theater that the road ahead of them won't be easy.
Click here to read more.
President Barack Obama's re-election team, maintaining an unofficial time-out on full-scale campaigning following a deadly shooting at a movie theater, said on Sunday it will keep its advertisements off the airwaves in Colorado for the rest of the week.
Obama and his Republican rival Mitt Romney both set aside the previously harsh tone of the November 6 election campaign to speak soothingly to the nation on Friday, after the shooting rampage that killed 12 at a midnight movie screening outside Denver.
Click here to read more.
|@ JordanGhawi : Sat down with President Obama. He has been incredible. He too has agreed not to mention the shooter's name.|
The AP reports:
President Barack Obama dashed to Colorado on Sunday to meet with families of those gunned down in a movie theater and to hear from state and local officials about the shooting that left 12 people dead and dozens more injured.
Air Force One touched down at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora late Sunday afternoon for the president's hastily arranged 2 1/2-hour visit, which includes a private meeting with the victims' loved ones and perhaps a public comment about the shooting early Friday morning at a busy multiplex.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan and Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates were among those who greeted Obama at Buckley.
The president is expected to speak at 7:30 p.m. ET.
|@ BreakingNews : Police in Aurora, Colo. say shooting suspect James Holmes is not cooperating with authorities - @SkyNewsBreak|
ABC on Sunday aired a clip of shooting suspect James Eagen Holmes. The clip showed Holmes discussing the idea of "temporal illusion" at science camp when he was 18.
"It's an illusion that allows you to change the past," he says.
To watch the video, click here.
Authorities have identified the 12 victims who were killed early Friday morning in the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting.
The deceased included an aspiring sports reporter, a 6-year-old girl and a man celebrating his birthday.For more about the victims, read the AP's report.
Audio of the first hour of the police and fire response to the Colorado shooting was made available this weekend via RadioReference.com.
To listen to the recordings, click here (warning: extremely graphic content).
James Holmes' gun jammed during the attack, a law enforcement source told the Associated Press.
The claim was made based on leftover bullets found in a magazine at the crime scene, the official said. The jam likely caused the suspect to change weapons in the middle of the attack.
More on this story here.
|@ KyleClark : Aurora PD reaffirms NO 2nd #theatershooting suspect: "An associate of Holmes was interviewed... no reason to believe that he is involved."|
Local station FOX31 reports:
Sources tell Justin Joseph someone made either a call or a text from the person of interest’s phone threatening violence if James Egan Holmes was not released from jail. That call prompted police to issue an alert to find and detain him.
Click here to read more.
|@ ProducerMatthew : KDVR report: Second "person of interest" sought by police in Aurora, Colorado mass shooting - http://t.co/ICWoWzKS|
From the AP:
Holmes apparently had prepared the attack at the Aurora theater well in advance, receiving multiple deliveries by mail for four months to his home and school and buying thousands rounds of ammunition on the Internet, Oates said.
"He had a high volume of deliveries," Oates said. "We think this explains how he got his hands on the magazine, ammunition," he said, as well as the rigged explosives in his apartment.
"What we're seeing here is evidence of some calculation and deliberation," Oates added.
Read more here.
From HuffPost's Sam Stein:
The White House announced on Saturday night that the president will make a stop in Aurora this Sunday. The guidance, which does not say whether or not President Obama will make public remarks (as he did following the Giffords shooting), is copied below:
On Sunday, the President will depart the White House en route Colorado. The departure from the South Lawn and arrival at Buckley Air Force Base are open press. In Aurora, Colorado, the President will visit with families of victims of the shooting as well as local officials. In the evening, the President will depart Aurora, Colorado en route San Francisco, California. The departure from Buckley Air Force Base and arrival at San Francisco International Airport are open press.
The President will spend the night in San Francisco.
|@ denverpost : EXCLUSIVE: President Barack Obama to visit Aurora #theatershooting victims and families Sunday: http://t.co/onz2ojZM|
The New York Times has more details about James Holmes, including details from his day-to-day life:
"...Mr. Holmes struggled through his first academic year at the University of Colorado, Denver, and had dropped out by this spring. Neighbors from his gang-ridden neighborhood in Aurora described him as a solitary figure, recognizable as one of the few white residents of a largely Hispanic neighborhood, and always alone. Alone as he bought beer and liquor at neighborhood shops, as he ate burritos at La California restaurant or got his car fixed at the Grease Monkey auto shop. Alone as he rode his bicycle through the streets."
Read more here.
|@ jeffrossen : BREAKING: All hazards have been removed from James Holmes' apartment...per Aurora Police.|
|@ BreakingNews : Colorado shooting suspect being held in solitary confinement for his own protection, says Arapahoe Co. sheriff|
The AP has a complete list of Aurora shooting victims. View it here.
A profile on a popular sex website appearing to be that of Colorado shooting suspect James Holmes is authentic ... so say sources connected to the website.
As TMZ first reported, the profile appeared on the website adultfriendfinder.com just days before the "Dark Knight Rises" massacre. The profile included a cryptic message on the top which reads, "Will you visit me in prison?"
HuffPost's Sharon Carty reports:
When Peter Burns' cell phone rang at 2:15 a.m. Friday, he glanced at the caller ID with eyes blurred from sleep, and decided to ignore it.
It was Jordan Ghawi, a family friend. He figured he'd just call him back.
But at 5:15, his phone rang again. This time colleagues from a radio station where he used to work in San Antonio were calling to tell him his friend, and their former intern Jessica Ghawi had been killed the night before at a theater in Aurora, Colo.
At a midnight showing Friday of the latest Batman movie in Aurora, Colo., a gunman, identified by police as 24-year-old James Holmes, opened fire killing 12 people and wounding 58.
Burns, a local morning radio talk show host with Mile High Sports in Denver, had to make a decision: Call out of work, or go on the air. He decided to fill his show talking about his friend to take the focus off the shooter.
"I decided I'll do every single interview if it means we can't get this coward any airtime," Burns told The Huffington Post.
Full story here.
Via The Denver Post:
Sometime late Thursday, Alex Sullivan posted this message on his Facebook page: "#TheDarkKnightRises OMG COUNTING down till it start cant wait going to be the best birthday ever."
Sullivan died on his 27th birthday. He and seven co-workers from a Red Robin restaurant had gone to the premiere. All eight were injured.
Full story here.
Via HuffPost Denver:
At a Saturday press conference, Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates provided details of Holmes' booby-trapped apartment. The place was designed "to kill whoever entered it."
"It was going to be a police officer... we sure as hell are angry," Oates said. "It's mind-boggling for me."
Two devices were set off in the afternoon, and the evidence "will continue to take some time" to gather, Oates said.
Read more here.
|@ AP : Police chief: Suspect in Colorado theater shooting booby-trapped his apartment specifically to target police: http://t.co/OXwfVOcu -CC|
|@ denverpost : UPDATE: Officials hope to let neighbors of #theatershooting suspect's apartment into homes Sunday: http://t.co/aqhDcyrM|
|@ AP : BREAKING: FBI says anyone who had opened door to apartment of theater shooting suspect would have been seriously injured or killed|
|@ AP : BREAKING: Aurora police chief believes major threats were eliminated from shooting suspect's apartment|
|@ nydailynews : Jailed shooting suspect James Holmes is 'spitting on guards,' thinks he's in a movie http://t.co/hQTx8ybQ #Aurora|