CRIME

James Holmes Helped Police Defuse Bombs In His Apartment After Aurora Theater Massacre

10/17/2013 03:54 pm ET | Updated Oct 18, 2013
AP

Aurora police officers testified in court Thursday that theater shooting suspect James Holmes helped the officers to diffuse explosives that Holmes had allegedly rigged his apartment with after the July 20, 2012 theater massacre.

Lt. Thomas Wilkes said that explosives found in the apartment were so sophisticated and difficult to diffuse that the police actually considered letting the whole building burn down as a safer alternative to trying to diffuse the bombs, The Denver Post reports.

"We knew that building would go. The idea was, 'can we defend the other buildings?'" Wilkes told the court.

That's when Wilkes said that the police decided to interview Holmes about the explosives, according to KDVR. And to their surprise, Holmes told FBI agents and police bomb squad members exactly how to defuse the bombs, step by step.

But that questioning the police conducted with Holmes was done without an attorney present. For that reason Holmes' lawyers are asking that any evidence gained from the interview be thrown out, saying that it was a violation of their client's constitutional rights.

Prosecutors say that law enforcement's methods were justified because concerns for public safety lingered even after Holmes was arrested.

More than 30 homemade grenades, 10 gallons of gasoline, improvised explosive devices (IED's) and trip wires or trigger mechanisms were secured from the Aurora, Colo. apartment.

During the July 2012 investigation of Holmes' apartment, an unnamed law enforcement official told CNN that grenades were wired to a control box in the kitchen, resembling setups that are more often seen in Iraq and Afghanistan. The official added that, had the explosives gone off as intended, they likely would have knocked down the walls of nearby apartments.

Dateline's Chris Hansen reportedly got a peek inside the apartment two days after the theater massacre and described what he saw with NBC viewers, remarking that the explosives were sophisticated enough to take down the building:

In the middle of his living room are dozens of black softball shaped firework shells that he bought filled with explosive power. They are all over the place. In the middle there are two jars full of liquid wires as I said all over the place there was a black box with a red blinking light. A mechanical camera then pans over on top of a glass table -- you see this water cooler jug half full of bullet. Then you pan down, then you see this black box with another red blinking light. The camera goes over, there are two chairs one has a jar apparently with fluid. The other has another black box and then there are green soda pop bottles filled with fluid all the way around.

Steven Foster, an International Security Expert and former officer with the Aurora Police Department, told the Daily Beast just days after the theater shooting that he suspected Holmes' plan was to create a diversion.

“This is a classic military tactic,” Foster said in 2012 while authorities continued to gather evidence from the apartment. “You create a diversion, and during the confusion you can have a higher level of impact in wounding people.”

Attorneys for Holmes admitted that he killed 12 people and wounded 70 others in the Aurora movie theater, but that he was "in the throes of a psychotic episode" at the time.

Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to 166 counts of murder, attempted murder and other charges for the July 20 shooting at the midnight screening of "Batman: The Dark Knight Rises."

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty, but to have Holmes executed they must prove to the jury that Holmes was legally sane at the time of the shootings and understood them to be wrong.

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