AURORA, Colo. -- Dan Oates is an articulate, straightforward man who, as police chief in Colorado's third largest city, is passionate about his community – and his officers.

"You think we're angry? We sure as hell are angry," Oates said in describing the threat to the people of Aurora and his colleagues at the apartment of the suspected gunman in Friday's movie theater shooting. The apartment had been rigged with booby traps to kill a police officer who might have opened the door.

It was a rare public show of emotion for Oates – and a reflection of his city's pain after 12 people were killed and 58 wounded during a midnight showing of the new Batman movie at a busy cinema.

The shooting thrust into the spotlight a man who, over the course of a 21-year career with New York City police, served as a patrolman in Manhattan's Upper East Side and left as chief of intelligence and a deputy chief overseeing 3,000 patrol officers in Brooklyn.

Oates left New York to become chief of the police and fire departments in Ann Arbor, Mich. In 2005, he took over the department in Aurora, a diverse city of 400,000 that sprawls 160 square miles east of Denver.

An English literature graduate from Bucknell University, Oates earned a law degree at New York Law School and is admitted to practice law in Colorado, New Jersey and New York. He also has a master's degree in management from New York University.

His legal education surfaced at the news conference Saturday, when Oates tried to head off a mental incompetence defense for suspect James Holmes. He told reporters Holmes received numerous commercial deliveries to his home and school over the past four months, showing "evidence of some calculation and deliberation."

Oates, a father of two girls, has also revealed some compassion. Gone somewhat unnoticed in the frenzy of the investigation was his admission to reporters that his own daughters also had been watching "The Dark Knight Rises" that night – but at a different theater.

On a separate, high-profile case in 2009, he urged an Aurora father convicted of fatal child abuse in the presumed death of the man's missing daughter to reveal the body's location so the 6-year-old girl could be properly buried. After the verdict, Oates said: "Aaron has within his capacity the answer to all of our questions about where Aarone is. And as I said before, if he has any shred of decency left in him, this is his moment to finally close that part of this tragedy by telling us where Aarone is."

She has never been found.

Now departments across the country are watching Aurora's investigation of the massacre.

"He will be all over, he'll be everywhere," Rich Kinsey, a retired detective sergeant in Ann Arbor, told Ann Arbor.com. "He's well prepared to do something like this."

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  • Rebecca Ann Wingo

    This undated photo provided by the family shows Rebecca Ann Wingo. Wingo, 32, was one of the victims killed in the Friday, July 20, 2012 movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo. (AP Photo)

  • The undated photo provided by the family shows Alex Teves. Teves, 24, was one of the victims killed in the Friday, July 20, 2012 movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo. (AP Photo/Teves Family)

  • Jessica Ghawi

    This undated photo provided by the family shows Jessica Ghawi. Ghawi is one of the 12 people killed when a gunman barged into a crowded theater, set off gas canisters and opened fire as spectators dove for cover and tried to flee, Friday, July 20, 2012, in Aurora, Colo. Dozens of others were injured, including 11 in critical condition. (AP Photo/Courtesy of the family)

  • This undated photo provided by the Larimer family shows John Larimer. Relatives have identified Larimer, a U.S. Navy sailor, as one of the victims killed by a gunman at a showing of the new Batman movie, early Friday, July 20, 2012, in Aurora, Colo. (AP Photo/Larimer family)

  • This undated photo provided by Robert Sullivan shows Veronica Moser-Sullivan, the youngest person slain in the July 20 attack that left 12 dead and dozens wounded during the Aurora theater shootings. Robert Sullivan, Veronica's grandfather, wants a thief to return pictures of the child that were stolen from his home in a burglary this week. He said Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012 that four cameras were stolen, including one that had a memory card with more than 40 photos of Veronica at a school celebration. Other images show her at a playground. (AP Photo/Robert Sullivan)

  • This undated photo provided by the family shows Jonathan T. Blunk, 26, of Aurora, Colo. with his two children. Blunk was one of the victims in the Friday, July 20, 2012 Aurora, Colo. movie theater shooting. (AP Photo)

  • This undated photo provided by the U.S. Air Force shows Jesse Childress. The 29-year-old, from Thornton, Colo., was one of the victims in the Friday, July 20, 2012 Aurora, Colo. movie theater shooting. Childress was an Air Force cyber-systems operator based at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora. (AP Photo/U.S. Air Force)

  • Alexander J. Boik

    This undated image provided by the family shows Alexander J. Boik, known as AJ. Boik was one of the victims in the Friday, July 20, 2012 Aurora, Colo. movie theater shooting. (AP Photo)

  • Matt McQuinn, Samantha Yowler

    This undated photo provided by the family shows Matt McQuinn, left, and Samantha Yowler. McQuinn was killed and Yowler was wounded in the Friday, July 20, 2012 Aurora, Colo., movie theater shooting. (AP Photo)

  • This photo provided by the family shows Micayla Medek. Medek, 23, is one of the 12 people killed when a gunman barged into a crowded theater, set off gas canisters and opened fire as spectators dove for cover and tried to flee, Friday, July 20, 2012, in Aurora, Colo. Dozens of others were injured, including 11 in critical condition. (AP Photo/Courtesy of the family)

  • A tribute to movie theater shooting victim AJ Boik, is shown along with his photo, on a message table Saturday, July 21, 2012, at a vigil at Gateway High School in Aurora, Colo., Boik, was a student at the school and was killed along with 11 others when a gunman opened fire in a movie theater. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

  • This photo provided by The Cowden Family shows shooting victim Gordon W. Cowden. Twelve people were killed and dozens were injured in the attack early Friday, July 20, 2012 at the packed theater during a showing of the Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises." in Aurora, Colo. Police have identified the suspected shooter as James Holmes, 24. (AP Photo/The Cowden Family)

  • Jonathan Blunk, Jesse Childress, Gordon Cowden, Jessica Ghawi, John Larimer, Micayla Medek, Alex Sullivan

    This combination of photos provided by their families shows seven of the 12 victims in the Friday, July 20, 2012 Aurora, Colo. movie theater shooting. Top row from left are Jonathan Blunk, Jesse Childress, Gordon Cowden, Jessica Ghawi, and bottom row from left, John Larimer, Micayla Medek, Alex Sullivan. (AP Photo)

  • This Sept. 20, 2011 photo provided by The Sullivan Family, shows shooting victim Alex Sullivan. Twelve people were killed and dozens were injured in the attack early Friday, July 20, 2012 at the packed theater during a showing of the Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises." in Aurora, Colo. Police have identified the suspected shooter as James Holmes, 24. (AP Photo/The Sullivan Family)

  • The Bass Pro Shops store in Denver, Colo. is shown, Saturday, July 21, 2012. The is store is where the gunman in Friday's movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., allegedly purchased two of his weapons. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

  • The Gander Mountain store in Aurora, Colo. is shown, Sunday, July 22, 2012. The is store is where the gunman in Friday's movie theater shooting allegedly purchased one of his weapons. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

  • Tom Sullivan , holds a photograph of his son, Alex Sullivan, as he pleads with the media to help him find his son, outside Gateway High School on Friday, July 20, 2012 in Aurora, Colo. Alex Sullivan, was celebrating his 27th birthday by attending midnight premiere of the Batman movie Friday night. A gunman wearing a gas mask set off an unknown gas and fired into the crowded movie theater killing 12 people and injuring at least 50 others, authorities said. (Photo credit: AP Photo/Barry Gutierrez)

  • A woman cries outside Gateway High School where witness were brought for questioning after a gunman opened fire at a midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises Batman movie Friday, July 20, 2012 in Aurora, Colo. A gunman wearing a gas mask set off an unknown gas and fired into the crowded movie theater killing 12 people and injuring at least 50 others, authorities said. (Photo credit: AP Photo/Barry Gutierrez)

  • Tom Sullivan, center, embraces family members outside Gateway High School where he has been searching franticly for his son Alex Sullivan who celebrated his 27th birthday by going to see "The Dark Knight Rises," movie where a gunman opened fire Friday, July 20, 2012, in Aurora, Colo. (Photo credit: AP Photo/Barry Gutierrez)

  • Eyewitness Chandler Brannon, 25, sits outside Gateway High School where witnesses were brought for questioning after a shooting at a movie theater showing the Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises," Friday, July 20, 2012 in Aurora. A gunman wearing a gas mask set off an unknown gas and fired into the crowded movie theater killing 12 people and injuring at least 50 others, authorities said. (Photo credit: AP Photo/Barry Gutierrez)

  • A small group prays outside Gateway High School where witness were brought for questioning Friday, July 20, 2012 in Aurora, Colo. A gunman wearing a gas mask set off an unknown gas and fired into the crowded movie theater killing 12 people and injuring at least 50 others, authorities said. (Photo credit: AP Photo/Barry Gutierrez)

  • Family and friends wait outside Gateway High School where witnesses were brought for questioning after a shooting at a movie theater showing the Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises," Friday, July 20, 2012 in Aurora, Colo. A gunman wearing a gas mask set off an unknown gas and fired into the crowded movie theater killing 12 people and injuring at least 50 others, authorities said. (Photo credit: AP Photo/Barry Gutierrez)

  • Eyewitness Jacob Stevens, 18, hugs his mother Tammi Stevens after being interview by police outside Gateway High School where witnesses were brought for questioning Friday, July 20, 2012 in Aurora, Colo. A gunman wearing a gas mask set off an unknown gas and fired into the crowded movie theater killing 12 people and injuring at least 50 others, authorities said. (Photo credit: AP Photo/Barry Gutierrez)

  • Eyewitness Isaiah Bow hugs his mother Shamecca Davis after being questioned by police outside Gateway High School where witnesses were brought in, Friday, July 20, 2012 in Aurora, Colo. After leaving the theater Bow went back in to find his girlfriend. "I didn't want to leave her in there. But she's ok now," Bow said. A gunman wearing a gas mask set off an unknown gas and fired into the crowded movie theater killing 12 people and injuring at least 50 others, authorities said. (Photo credit: AP Photo/Barry Gutierrez)

  • Emma Goos, 19, hugs her mother, Judy Goos, outside Gateway High School where witnesses were brought for questioning Friday, July 20, 2012, in Aurora, Colo. Emma was in the third row of the theater of the new Batman movie when the shooter entered. She helped apply pressure to a man's head who was injured. (Photo credit: AP Photo/Barry Gutierrez)

  • Police cars in front of the Century 16 theater in Aurora, Colorado where a gunman opened fire during the opening of the new Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises" killing at least 15 people and wounding 50 others on the morning of July 20, 2012. The shooting suspect in custody after at least 12 people were shot dead and around 50 were wounded at a movie screening in the United States has been identified as 24-year-old James Holmes, US media said Friday. Television networks cited the FBI as saying that Holmes, from the town of Aurora, Colorado, scene of the midnight shooting at a screening of the Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises," did not appear to have any known terrorism connections. (Photo credit: AFP PHOTO/JONATHAN CASTNER JONATHAN CASTNER/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Police tape cordons off the parking area around the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, July 20, 2012 where a gunman opened fire during the showing of the new Batman movie. At least 12 people were killed and around 50 wounded in the cinema shooting. (Photo credit: AFP PHOTO JONATHAN CASTNERJONATHAN CASTNER/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Police cars in front of the Century 16 theater in Aurora, Colorado where a gunman opened fire during the opening of the new Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises" killing at least 15 people and wounding 50 others on the morning of July 20, 2012. The shooting suspect in custody after at least 12 people were shot dead and around 40 were wounded at a movie screening in the United States has been identified as 24-year-old James Holmes, US media said Friday. Television networks cited the FBI as saying that Holmes, from the town of Aurora, Colorado, scene of the midnight shooting at a screening of the Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises," did not appear to have any known terrorism connections. (Photo credit: AFP PHOTO/JONATHAN CASTNERJONATHAN CASTNER/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Police cars in front of the Century 16 theater in Aurora, Colorado where a gunman opened fire during the opening of the new Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises" killing at least 15 people and wounding 50 others on the morning of July 20, 2012. The shooting suspect in custody after at least 12 people were shot dead and around 50 were wounded at a movie screening in the United States has been identified as 24-year-old James Holmes, US media said Friday. Television networks cited the FBI as saying that Holmes, from the town of Aurora, Colorado, scene of the midnight shooting at a screening of the Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises," did not appear to have any known terrorism connections. (Photo credit: AFP PHOTO/JONATHAN CASTNERJONATHAN CASTNER/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Police cars are seen in the parking area around the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, July 20, 2012 where a gunman opened fire during the showing of the new Batman movie. At least 12 people were killed and around 50 wounded in the cinema shooting. (Photo credit: AFP PHOTO JONATHAN CASTNERJONATHAN CASTNER/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Police use a video camera to look inside an apartment where the suspect in a shooting at a movie theatre lived in Aurora, Colo., Friday, July 20, 2012. As many as 12 people were killed and 50 injured at a shooting at the Century 16 movie theatre early Friday during the showing of the latest Batman movie. (Photo credit: AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

  • Police break out a window of an apartment where the suspect in a shooting at a movie theatre lived in Aurora, Colo., Friday, July 20, 2012. As many as 12 people were killed and 50 injured at a shooting at the Century 16 movie theatre early Friday during the showing of the latest Batman movie. (Photo credit: AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

  • Shamecca Davis hugs her son Isaiah Bow, who was an eye witness to the shooting, outside Gateway High School where witness were brought for questioning Friday, July 20, 2012 in Denver. After leaving the theater Bow went back in to find his girlfriend. " I didn't want to leave her in there. But she's ok now," Bow said. A gunman wearing a gas mask set off an unknown gas and fired into a crowded movie theater at a midnight opening of the Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises," killing at least 12 people and injuring at least 50 others, authorities said. (Photo credit: AP Photo/Barry Gutierrez)

  • Judy Goos, second from left, hugs her daughters friend, Isaiah Bow, 20, while eye witnesses Emma Goos, 19, left, and Terrell Wallin, 20, right, gather outside Gateway High School where witness were brought for questioning Friday, July 20, 2012 in Denver. A gunman wearing a gas mask set off an unknown gas and fired into a crowded movie theater at a midnight opening of the Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises," killing at least 12 people and injuring at least 50 others, authorities said. (Photo credit: AP Photo/Barry Gutierrez)

  • A SWAT team officer stands watch near an apartment house where the suspect in a shooting at a movie theatre lived in Aurora, Colo., Friday, July 20, 2012. As many as 14 people were killed and 50 injured at a shooting at the Century 16 movie theatre early Friday during the showing of the latest Batman movie. (Photo credit: AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

  • Police gather near an apartment house where the suspect in a shooting at a movie theatre lived in Aurora, Colo., Friday, July 20, 2012. As many as 12 people were killed and 50 injured at a shooting at the Century 16 movie theatre early Friday during the showing of the latest Batman movie. (Photo credit: AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

  • A SWAT team officer stands watch near an apartment house where the suspect in a shooting at a movie theatre lived in Aurora, Colo., Friday, July 20, 2012. As many as 12 people were killed and 50 injured at a shooting at the Century 16 movie theatre early Friday during the showing of the latest Batman movie. (Photo credit: AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

  • Jacob Stevens, 18, hugs his mother Tammi Stevens after being interview by police outside Gateway High School where witness were brought for questioning after a shooting at a movie theater, Friday, July 20, 2012 in Denver. A gunman wearing a gas mask set off an unknown gas and fired into a crowded movie theater at a midnight opening of the Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises," killing at least 12 people and injuring at least 50 others, authorities said. (Photo credit: AP Photo/Barry Gutierrez)

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  • Police are pictured outside of a Century 16 movie theatre where as many as 12 people were killed and many injured at a shooting during the showing of a movie at the in Aurora, Colo., Friday, July 20, 2012. (Photo credit: AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

  • Police are pictured outside of a Century 16 movie theatre where as many as 12 people were killed and many injured at a shooting during the showing of a movie at the in Aurora, Colo., Friday, July 20, 2012. (Photo credit: AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

  • Aurora Police Chief Daniel Oates talks to media at Aurora Mall where as many as 12 people were killed and many injured at a shooting at the Century 16 movie theatre in Aurora, Colo., Friday, July 20, 2012. (Photo credit: AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

  • Aurora Police Chief Daniel Oates talks to media at the Aurora Mall where as many as 14 people were killed and many injured at a shooting at the Century 16 movie theatre in Aurora, Colo., Friday, July 20, 2012. (Photo credit: AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

  • Police are pictured outside of a Century 16 movie theatre where as many as 12 people were killed and many injured at a shooting during the showing of a movie at the in Aurora, Colo., Friday, July 20, 2012. (Photo credit: AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

  • Police are pictured outside of a Century 16 movie theatre where as many as 12 people were killed and many injured at a shooting during the showing of a movie at the in Aurora, Colo., Friday, July 20, 2012. (Photo credit: AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

  • People gather outside the Century 16 movie theatre in Aurora, Colo., at the scene of a mass shooting early Friday morning, July 20, 2012. Police Chief Dan Oates says 12 people are dead following the shooting at the suburban Denver movie theater. He says 50 others were injured when gunfire erupted early Friday at the Aurora theater. Oates says a gunman appeared at the front of one of the Century 16 theaters. <em>Photo Credit: Karl Gehring, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/exposure/" target="_hplink">Denver Post</a>. </em> / AP

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