DENVER -- In the wake of the Virginia Tech tragedy five years ago, the University of Colorado and other schools across the U.S. created "threat assessment teams" to identify and take action against students who might turn violent. Now, in the aftermath of the movie theater rampage in Aurora, some are wondering whether the system broke down.

A Denver TV station reported this week that a university psychiatrist was so alarmed by graduate student James E. Holmes' behavior that she tried to bring him to the attention of the school's threat assessment team more than a month before the attack, but the group never met to talk about him because he had already taken steps to drop out.

Holmes, 24, is charged with murdering 12 people and wounding 58 in the July 20 rampage a few miles from the Aurora campus after methodically stockpiling guns and ammunition for months.

"If the argument is because he was no longer a student, he was no longer their problem, they are absolutely incorrect," said Larry Barton, a threat consultant and professor at American College in Bryn Mawr, Pa. "Any court and any victim's family would have an argument that the school acted with indifference. I hope they have a very compelling answer to why they did what they did."

University Chancellor Don Elliman has repeatedly said the school did all it could with regard to Holmes. He and other university officials have refused to discuss any specifics, citing privacy laws and a judge's gag order. The university would not say whether staff members had any concerns about Holmes or whether police were ever alerted to him.

The school on Friday announced it had hired former U.S. Attorney Robert N. Miller to conduct a review of the university's procedures and actions in dealing with Holmes.

KMGH-TV and the Denver Post, citing sources they did not identify, said police were never contacted.

It's not clear what alarmed the psychiatrist, Dr. Lynne Fenton, or whether she even treated him. But she helped found the school's Behavioral Evaluation and Threat Assessment Team in 2010.

The team's members are drawn from the counseling center, the faculty, the housing and student services departments and campus police. It consults with police, the university's legal team and mental health services.

It doesn't have the power itself to suspend or expel students or to force anyone to get mental health care. But it can refer students for voluntary care or school discipline and report threats to the authorities, the university said.

The idea of such teams is to bring all the warning signs together in one place.

"The end goal is to have coordinating systems, that different departments talk to each other," said Alison Kiss, executive director of the Clery Center for Security on Campus, which helps colleges and universities deal with security.

"People might act differently or say something during class, at a club or in a dormitory that might disclose different behaviors. It might not raise a concern when something's taken individually, but when you put them all together, they raise red flags."

Virginia passed a law in 2008 requiring its four-year public colleges to set up threat assessment teams to investigate students after a mentally unstable Seung-Hui Cho shot 32 people to death and committed suicide at Virginia Tech. The student had been sending out warning signs for years with his sullen behavior and twisted, violent writings.

Even if the Colorado team had convened and police investigated, it's unclear whether any violence could have been prevented.

In December, Morgan State University police and counselors in Baltimore evaluated student Alex Kinyua following an outburst in a computer lab and concluded he posed no threat. Months later he was charged with murdering a man and eating his heart and brain.

In Arizona, Pima Community College student Jared Loughner had several run-ins with faculty members, students and campus police before he was suspended in 2010. Campus police told him to get a mental health evaluation or not return.

Loughner was later arrested in the 2011 assassination attempt against Rep. Gabrielle Giffords that left six people dead.

For Jennifer Seeger, who was in the theater at the time of the shootings and was uninjured, the question is academic.

"I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt," Seeger said. "Young people say things, and they're often misunderstood. She probably deals with a ton of crazy people who say a lot of crazy things. I guess you never know who's the one who's going to pull the trigger."

Photos from the tragic Aurora shooting:
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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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