James Eagan Holmes (born December 13, 1987) is the suspected perpetrator of a mass shooting that occurred on July 20, 2012 at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. He had no known criminal record prior to the shooting.
James Eagan Holmes was born to Arlene and Robert Holmes on December 13, 1987 in San Diego, California. His mother is a registered nurse, and his father is a mathematician and scientist. His father has degrees from Stanford, UCLA and Berkeley. Holmes was raised in Castroville, California, where he attended elementary school, and San Diego. Holmes played soccer and ran cross-country in high school. He attended a local Lutheran church with his family, according to the church's pastor. In a booking report from after his arrest, Holmes reported himself as agnostic.
In Aurora, Holmes lived on Paris Street in a one-bedroom apartment, in a building with other students involved in health studies. In his rental application, he described himself as "quiet and easygoing". He left some digital footprints, like a university email address, an old Myspace photo, a dating profile on Match.com, and a profile on Adult FriendFinder, as well as a resume at the employment website Monster.com. According to a few sources, Holmes may have hired prostitutes and left reviews of them on an online message board.
Education and career
In 2006, Holmes worked as an intern at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies where he was assigned to write computer code for an experiment. Holmes, who was described by his supervisor as stubborn, uncommunicative and socially inept, presented his project to the other interns at the end of the internship, but never actually completed it. Holmes wrote of his experiences at the Salk Institute in a college application essay: "I had little experience in computer programming and the work was challenging to say the least. Nonetheless, I taught myself how to program in Flash and then construct a cross-temporal calibration model.... Completing the project and presenting my model at the end of the internship was exhilarating."
Graduating from Westview High School in the Torrey Highlands community of San Diego in 2006, Holmes attended the University of California, Riverside (UCR) and, in 2010, received his undergraduate degree in neuroscience with the highest honors. He was a member of several honor societies, including Phi Beta Kappa and Golden Key. According to UCR recommendation letters submitted to the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign (UIUC), Holmes graduated in the top 1% of his class with a 3.949 GPA. The UCR letters also described Holmes as "a very effective group leader’’ and a person who "takes an active role in his education, and brings a great amount of intellectual and emotional maturity into the classroom".
In 2008, Holmes worked as a counselor at a residential summer camp in Glendale, California, that catered to needy children aged 7–14. There he was responsible for 10 children and had no disciplinary problems.
In June 2011, Holmes enrolled as a Ph.D. student in neuroscience at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora. He received a $21,600 grant from the National Institutes of Health, according to agency records, which was disbursed in installments from July 2011 to June 2012. Holmes also received a $5,000 stipend from the University of Colorado, Denver. Though Holmes received a letter of acceptance to UIUC, where he was offered a $22,600 stipend and free tuition, he declined their offer without specifying a reason. Reviewers of Holmes' application at UIUC remembered his application because he submitted a picture of himself with a llama.
In 2012, his academic performance declined, and he scored poorly on the comprehensive exam in the spring. The university was not planning to expel him. However, Holmes was in the process of withdrawing from the university. Three days after failing a key oral exam at the university in early June 2012, Holmes dropped out of his studies without further explanation. At the time of his arrest, he gave his occupation as "laborer."
Aurora theater shooting
Events leading to the shooting
Holmes' defense attorneys claimed in a motion he was a "psychiatric patient" of the medical director of Anschutz's Student Mental Health Services prior to the Aurora shooting; however, the prosecution disagrees with that claim. Four days after the release of the defense attorney's motion, the judge required this information to be blacked out. CBS News later reported that Holmes met with at least three mental health professionals at the University of Colorado prior to the massacre.
Some of Holmes' acquaintances suspected prior to the shooting that Holmes suffered from mental illness and could be dangerous. Two weeks before the shooting, he sent a text message asking a graduate student if they had heard of the disorder dysphoric mania, and warning the student to stay away from him "because I am bad news."
It was reported that Holmes was a big fan of superheroes, including Batman, and that his apartment was decorated with Batman paraphernalia.
Actions prior to shooting
On May 22, 2012, Holmes purchased a Glock 22 pistol at a Gander Mountain shop in Aurora, and six days later bought a Remington Model 870 shotgun at a Bass Pro Shops in Denver. On June 7, just hours after failing his oral exam at the university, he purchased a Smith & Wesson M&P15 semi-automatic rifle, with a second Glock 22 pistol following on July 6. All the weapons were bought legally. In the four months prior to the shooting, Holmes also bought 3000 rounds of ammunition for the pistols, 3000 rounds for the M&P15, and 350 shells for the shotgun over the Internet. On July 2, he placed an order for a Blackhawk Urban Assault Vest, two magazine holders and a knife at an online retailer.
On June 25, less than a month before the shooting, Holmes emailed an application to join a gun club in Byers, Colorado. The owner, Glenn Rotkovich, called him several times throughout the following days to invite him to a mandatory orientation, but could only reach his answering machine. Due to the nature of Holmes' voice mail, which he described as "bizarre, freaky", "guttural, spoken with a deep voice, incoherent and rambling," Rotkovich instructed his staff to inform him if Holmes showed up, though Holmes neither appeared at the gun range nor called back. "In hindsight, looking back -- and if I'd seen the movies -- maybe I'd say it was like the Joker -- I would have gotten the Joker out of it...It was like somebody was trying to be as weird as possible," Rotkovich said.
Shooting and arrest
On July 20, 2012, police arrested an unresisting Holmes next to his car behind the Century 16 theater, moments after the 2012 Aurora shooting, in which Holmes allegedly set off several gas or smoke canisters and then opened fire on the theater audience, killing 12 and wounding 58. The responding officers recovered several guns from inside the car and the theater. According to two federal authorities, Holmes had dyed his hair red and called himself "The Joker".
Once apprehended, Holmes told the police that he had booby-trapped his apartment with explosive devices before heading to the theater. Police later confirmed the presence of explosives in the apartment.
Detention and court appearance
Holmes was initially jailed at Arapahoe Detention Center, under suicide watch. He is being held in solitary confinement to protect him from other inmates, a routine precaution for high-profile cases.
Holmes made his first court appearance in Centennial, Colorado on July 23, before Judge William B. Sylvester. He was read his rights and no bond was given. A mandatory protection order was issued by the judge. The judge appointed a public defender. Holmes said nothing and never looked at the judge. His appearance, which was described as "dazed" and "confused" fueled speculation about his mental state.
On July 30, Colorado prosecutors filed formal charges against Holmes that included 24 counts of first degree murder, 116 counts of attempted murder, possession of explosive devices, and inciting violence. The multiple charges expand the opportunities for prosecutors to obtain convictions. For each person killed in the shooting, Holmes is charged with one count of murder with deliberation and one count of murder with extreme indifference. Holmes agreed in court to waive his right to a preliminary hearing within 35 days.
On August 9, Holmes' attorneys said their client is mentally ill and that they need more time to assess the nature of his illness. The disclosure was made at a court hearing in Centennial where news media organizations were asking a judge to unseal court documents in the case.
On September 19, the prosecution filed a motion to add 10 new charges against Holmes and asked to amend 17 others. The additional charges would bring the total counts Holmes faces to 152. Holmes appeared in the Arapahoe County Court house the following day for the first time without his dyed-red hair, but with cropped hair revealing his natural brown color.
On September 28, court documents released by prosecutors say Holmes was revoked access to the University of Colorado campus because he threatened a professor. The university has said Holmes was denied access to non-public parts of the campus because he had withdrawn from school.
On October 11, 2012, Holmes' attorneys asked Judge William Sylvester to postpone a preliminary hearing scheduled for November. On October 25, the preliminary hearing was set for the week of January 7.
Holmes' lawyers filed an emergency motion on November 14, 2012 to delay a pre-trial hearing, citing an unspecified condition that has left him unable to appear in court. "As a result of developments over the past 24 hours, Mr. Holmes is in a condition that renders him unable to be present in court for tomorrow's hearing," They requested to delay the hearing, which they received. It was rescheduled for December. Evidently, Holmes made various suicide attempts referred to as "half-hearted" in days before the scheduled hearing on November 15.
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- ^ a b Suspect Bought Large Stockpile of Rounds Online, The New York Times (July 22, 2012)
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- ^ John Ingold (July 30, 2012). "James Holmes faces 142 counts, including 24 of first-degree murder". The Denver Post. http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_21191265/hearing-underway-man-suspected-killing-12-aurora-theater. Retrieved 2012-10-07.
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