Saturday, July 21, 2012

Batman Massacre: James Eagan Holmes

I couldn't believe hearing about the craziness in Colorado this morning. Sitting there in the comfort of my in-law's home, the news again reassured me that the criminally insane are never going away.

This time the target was a movie theatre in Aurora.

A gunman burst into the emergency exit door of a theater and shot 71 people, killing 12, at a midnight premiere of the new Batman movie Friday, creating a chaotic, smoke-filled scene that had bloody moviegoers dragging each other outside.

While some witnesses said the gunman entered through a side-door emergency exit at the front of the theater, a federal law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Associated Press that the gunman bought a ticket and went into the theater as part of the crowd.

The official said James Eagan Holmes, 24, then apparently propped open an exit door in the theater as the movie was playing, donned the protective ballistic gear and began one of the worst mass shootings in the nation's history.

"It was like something out of a movie," said Jacob King, who was standing in the lobby when someone carried out the still body of a young girl, covered in blood. "You don't want to believe it's real, but it is."

The moviegoer handed the child's body to a police officer, who put her in the back of his squad car and sped away.

Holmes stormed into the theater with three guns - an AR-15 assault rifle, a shotgun and a Glock handgun - and two gas canisters that clouded the room and stung people's eyes and throats. Witnesses said he was wearing a gas mask and a flak jacket.

In New York City, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said: "It clearly looks like a deranged individual. He has his hair painted red. He said he was the Joker, obviously the enemy of Batman." Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates would not confirm that information, but confirmed he had spoken to Kelly. The two used to work together in New York.

Holmes was arrested by police in the parking lot outside the theater and is custody. His car, a Hyundai, was parked outside the back door, Oates said at a press conference. Police found his north Aurora apartment booby-trapped, the same song playing on repeat on his stereo. The apartment complex has been evacuated.

ABC News, Brian Ross apologizes for his Tea Party screw up!

During his report of the incident, Brian Ross immediately rushed to judgement by reporting that James Holmes was tied to Tea Party

ABC News and correspondent Brian Ross apologized Friday after Ross suggested on air that the Colorado mass shooting suspect could be tied to the Tea Party.

As the name of the suspect, identified as 24-year-old James Holmes, first emerged Friday morning, Ross reported on ABC News that he'd found a web page for a "Jim Holmes" on a Colorado Tea Party site.

"There is a Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado, page on the Colorado Tea Party site as well, talking about him joining the Tea Party last year," Ross reported.

He added: "Now we don't know if this is the same Jim Holmes, but it's Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colo."

That man is not the same Jim Holmes. The Colorado Tea Party Patriots, whose website Ross was looking at, put out a statement criticizing Ross for even floating the possibility - noting the Jim Holmes with the Tea Party group is 52 years old and not the same person.

"The attempts of some media organizations to characterize the shooter as a Tea Party member without having made any effort to contact our organization are shameless and reprehensible," the group said in a statement.

Ross clarified on air Friday, as ABC News issued a formal apology.

"An earlier ABC News broadcast report suggested that a Jim Holmes of a Colorado Tea Party organization might be the suspect, but that report was incorrect. ABC News and Brian Ross apologize for the mistake, and for disseminating that information before it was properly vetted," the statement said.

On air later in the morning, Ross also said, "An earlier report that I had was incorrect that he was connected with the Tea Party. In fact, that's a different Jim Holmes. He was not connected to the Tea Party and what we do know about him is he is a 24-year-old white male who went to Colorado for a Ph.D."

So far 12 people were killed in the shooting at that Aurora movie theater, and, sorry to say, over 50 were injured.

Holmes was arrested by police in the parking lot outside the theater and is custody. His car, a Hyundai, was parked outside the back door, Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said at a press conference.

Police found his north Aurora apartment booby-trapped, the same song playing on repeat on his stereo. The apartment complex has been evacuated.

The Massacre!

The massacre occurred in a suburb of Denver, about 18 miles from Littleton, scene of the 1999 Columbine mass shooting where 15 people died, including the two gunmen.

Corbin Dates and Jennifer Seeger were sitting in the second row of the theater when Dates saw someone in the front row answer a phone call during the opening credits and walk to the emergency door in the front of the theater.

Less than an hour later a man, dressed in black and wearing a gas mask and what looked like body armor, entered through the same emergency exit. He lobbed two canisters and almost instantly the theater filled with smoke.

Dates and Seeger, like others in the theater, thought the man and the smoke were all part of the show, they said. Right as their eyes began to tear up from the smoke, the man fired a shot at the ceiling.

The gunman moved through the crowd and stopped in front of Seeger.

He pointed a long rifle at her face and said nothing, then he shot at the person sitting behind her, Seeger said.

"I have no idea why he didn't shoot me," Seeger said.

The two dove to the ground. They could feel hot shell casings hitting their legs as the tried to crawl through the dark theater now filled with smoke. Seeger's forehead has a burned from one of the casings.

Her friends urged each other and the people around them to stay quiet, desperate not to draw the attention of the gunman who was working his way up the aisle.

As she huddled on the ground, Seeger could see bodies of women and children lying around her.

Seeger, who has some EMT training, tried to help a man bleeding next to her. She worked to find a pulse, but was forced to leave him behind as they tried to flee the theater.

People tried to exit through the main entrance of the theater, Seeger said. By then the gunman had worked his way to the back of the theater, shooting at people as they tried to run.

Seeger estimates she was trapped in the theater for 10 to 15 minutes. When she finally reached the lobby, she saw a police officer cocking a shot gun. Once outside, Seeger called her father.

"My dad is not a sentimental guy, but he was crying on the phone," Seeger said.

James Wilburn was also sitting in the second row of the theater when the emergency door opened.

"He was dressed in black," Wilburn said. "Wearing a flack jacket and a gas mask."

The man dropped a canister to the floor that began spewing gas before he fired several rounds toward the back of the theater.

Naya Thompson, 21, said the gas spread quickly through the theater and thinks that the gunman may have dropped two canisters.

"It was like tear gas," Thompson said. "I was coughing and choking and I couldn't breathe."

Benjamin Fernandez, 30, said he was watching the movie when he heard a series of explosions. He said that people ran from the theater and there were gunshots as police shouted "get down!"

Frenandez said he saw people falling, including one young girl.

Brittany Romero was in Theater 10 for the 12:15 a.m. showing. When the fire alarm sounded, people began throwing their popcorn and drinks in the air, assuming it was a practical joke, Romero said.

Salina Jordan, 19, was in Theater 8 and saw people fall after they were shot. She said one girl was struck in cheek, others were wounded in the stomach including a girl who looked to be around 9-years-old.

Jordan said it sounded like firecrackers until someone ran into Theater 8 yelling "they're shooting out here!"

The police came running in, telling people to run out. Some police were carrying or dragging bodies, she said.

Meghan Walton, 20, of Boulder said she was sitting beside her friend Gage Hankins, 18 of Ohio, in Theater 8 when he was shot in the arm before he was rushed out of the theater.

"I saw a whole lot of smoke in the isle," Walton said. "I saw about three of four bullets shot near the smoke."

Walton was with 10 members of the group Friends: Association of Young People who Stutter.

"I ran outside and was holding his arm that was hot," Walton said. "My eyes were blurred by the smoke. It was like chaos. People were crying hysterically."

She counted 12 people who were bleeding. Ambulances started arriving but there were not enough to put everyone in them.

"The worst was a man who was shot in the head. He had his hand on his head," Walton said. "They started doubling up, putting two people in the same ambulance. One girl who wasn't injured as badly was placed in a police car and rushed away."

Police set up a command post near the Dillards department store and were interviewing hundreds of possible witnesses. Many were taken by bus to Gateway High School for questioning.

Robert Jones, 28, was in Theater 9 when the shooting started.

Jones said when he first saw smoke billowing from the front of the theater, he thought it was a special effect. Shots rang out almost immediately after.

"I thought it was pretty much the end of the world," Roberts said.

Roberts stayed flat on the ground until police came into the theater.

Tammi Stevens said her son, 18-year-old Jacob Stevens, was inside Theater 9 when the shooting started. Stevens was waiting for her son at Gateway High School while police interviewed him.

Jacob told his mom that he saw a guy walk into the theater wearing body armor and throw some sort of canister that then emitted some sort of gas.

"You let your kids go to a late night never think something like this would happen," Stevens said.

Oates said the first police officers were at the theater within between 60 and 90 seconds. Eventually 200 officers and deputies responded. Police from all over the metro area were called to the scene.

Ten people died in the theater and two others died at hospitals. Many of the injured were critically injured. At least one person in an adjoining theater was hit.

One of those killed was Jessica Ghawi, a sports blogger also known as Jessica Redfield. She recently wrote of surviving a Toronto shooting. The Department of Defense says two Air Force airmen and a Navy sailor were wounded in the shooting, while another sailor who was at the theater can't be located.

One of the victims died at Children's Hospital in Aurora but officials there would not say whether it was a child or an adult. The other five patients survived, including one who is in critical condition with buckshot injuries to the back.

Two of the victims at Children's were hit with a high-velocity rifle, perhaps from 60 to 80 feet away, said emergency room physician Dr. Guy Upshaw.

Oates said police received hundreds of 911 calls about the shooting beginning at 12:39 a.m. and arrived minutes later at the theater complex.

Police say the suspect "appeared" at the front of one of the theaters showing "The Dark Knight Rises."

Witnesses told The Post that he entered through an emergency exit at the right front of the Theater 9 less than 10 minutes into the film.

The suspect then threw some type of explosive and started shooting into the packed theater. Police have no evidence that there are any additional suspects involved in the shooting.

The bodies of the 10 people who died at the theater remain at the scene while police continued to investigate.

Josh Kelly, 28, was watching the movie with his girlfriend of about four years. He lost her in the chaos.

Josh called his father, Robert Kelly, from the theater and said: "I can't find my girl." In the mayhem, the darkness and the smoke, and people trampling, he "just lost track and he couldn't see," the elder Kelly said. "My son is freaked out."

Robert Kelly rushed to the theater after his son's call, and found him outside covered in blood. His girlfriend was among the fatalities. Now he is home and sedated, under a nurse's care.

Outside the back exit of the theater, FBI agents have placed yellow tape and numbered evidence markets on objects in the parking lot, including a gas mask. A bloody jacket and spilled popcorn were on the pavement.

Authorities also searched a white car parked behind the movie theater, removing what appeared to be a combat helmet, a duffle bag, an ammunition clip and a vest.

After his arrest, the suspect made a statement about possible explosives in his residence.

Police have blocked off a three-block area around an apartment complex in north Aurora. Residents in the area said they were evacuated around 2 a.m. while police searched the third floor of the apartment building.

The police chief choked up when he said officers arrived on the scene a minute after the first 911 call, and that 200 officers eventually showed up, many of them personally driving victims to the hospital.

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper also became emotional while discussing the mass shooting at the Friday afternoon press conference.

"There's not one of us who doesn't read or hear this story ... and think about it being your child in that movie theater," Hickenlooper said. "That reality makes the pain and grief too intense for words."

Hickenlooper called the killer an "aberration of nature."

Hickenlooper released a statement Friday morning saying, "It is beyond the power of words to fully express our sorrow this morning. We appreciate the swift work by local, state and federal law enforcement. Coloradans have a remarkable ability to support one another in times of crisis. This is one of those times."

"It is an absolute horror," Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan said, thanking the first responders who tended to the victims. "We will always wish that no matter how much we did now that we had done more."

The FBI is assisting in the investigation. Officers and deputies responded from almost every local police and sheriff's department in the metro area.

The FBI said that there is no indication that the shooting has any connection to terrorism.

Victims were transported to at least six hospitals. Several of them were rushed to hospitals in police cars. Ages of people injured and killed in the shooting vary.

One child and five adults were taken to Children's Hospital Colorado. The adults ranged in age from 18 to 31 years old. One of the six patients died and the other five are currently listed in conditions from good to critical.

Information on which of the patients died was not released.

Shortly after midnight, patients started arriving at the Medical Center of Aurora. A total of 15 patients - ranging from 16 to 31 years old - were sent to the medical center, 12 of them with gunshot wounds.

Eight of the patients have been discharged, five victims remain in critical condition and two patients are being prepared for surgery.

All of the patients came in with wounds to their torsos, necks or necks. Doctors said the wounds were caused by a high caliber weapon and or what appears to be shrapnel.

Swedish Medical Center spokeswoman Nicole Williams says two people injured at the theater have arrived at the hospital in critical condition.

She says emergency workers said there could be several more patients.

Denver Health Medical Center treated six victims from the shooting. All were treated for gunshot wounds and abrasions. Three victims have since been released, the other three remain in fair condition, hospital officials said.

A total of 23 victims were taken to the University of Colorado Hospital.

Details are still emerging about the suspect, who is right now in custody. Prepare yourself because in the next few days to weeks, we will find out everything about James Eagan Holmes.

We'll hear about his life before the shooting, the days of his youth, his parents, his family, his neighborhood. We will hear about his grades, if he dated, if he was straight or gay, if he was a Democrat or Republican, if he ever participated in violent protests, or if he was really a quiet guy who kept to himself.

In the next short while, the News Media is going to dissect him. They will tell us a lot of information that may or may not be important to us depending on our level of curiosity. We will hear folks tell us if he was a loner, a sociopath, deranged, slipped under the wire, and of course what they think "may have" made him do this.

We'll find out about his guns, where he bought them, where he got his magazines and ammunition from, we may even find out where he got the tear gas from, or if any of the guns he bought were legal or not? We may even hear people call for regulations to ban the type of guns he used - it wouldn't surprise me if someone is writing it up right now.

What we already know!

Authorities say Holmes arrived at the theatre 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 theatre, 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, Colorado, on May 22nd. Then six days later, he picked up a Remington shotgun in Denver. After that about two weeks later, he bought a .223 calibre Smith & Wesson rifle in Thornton, Colorado, and then a second Glock in Denver on July 6 - 13th just 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 theatre."

Of this new information, this information about his gun purchases just don't sound right.

The new Glock pistols, the shotgun, and the rifle all cost a great deal of money, but Holmes is said to have been struggled to find work after graduating with highest honours with a neuroscience degree from the University of California, Riverside. This was said by a neighbour, and retired electrical engineer, Tom Mai.

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.

James Eagan Holmes came from a well-tended San Diego enclave of two-story homes with red-tiled roofs, where neighbours 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 on Friday in a suburban Denver movie theatre, 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.

Holmes went to high school in the San Diego area where Holmes grew up. A longtime neighbour in San Diego remembers him as only a "shy guy ... a loner" from a church-going family. In addition to playing soccer at Westview High School, he ran cross country.

The bookish demeanor concealed an unspooling life.
Holmes had a degree in neuroscience from the University of California-Riverside, and he enrolled as a graduate student in the same field at the University of Colorado, according to spokeswomen for both universities.

The University of Colorado confirmed that Holmes was in the process of withdrawing from the university's graduate program in neuroscience. Holmes enrolled at the university in June 2011. He withdrew from the university last month for unknown reasons.

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, 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."

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 killer'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."

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 neighbour 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.

"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."

The Batman movie killer tells police he's "The Joker."

Law enforcement sources confirmed to ABC News that Holmes said "I am the Joker" when apprehended by authorities. His hair was painted red, the same hair color of Heath Ledger's Joker at one point in 2008's "The Dark Knight."

While supposedly the "Dark Knight Rises" director Christopher Nolan says the shooting's devastating, I can't help but wonder if Hollywood wants to accept their part of the blame for things like this.

Violence like the massacre that happened is an all too common staple of action films, including Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy. A similar, now haunting, scene unfurls in "The Dark Knight Rises" when a masked villain leads a violent gang into a packed football stadium and deploys guns and explosives on the unsuspecting crowd.

Granted, there are no signs that the Batman trilogy is the motive behind the insanity of James Eagan Holmes' acts - but, some are pointing fingers at parallels between the comics, the movie trilogy, and the massacre.

In Frank Miller's iconic 1986 comic book series, "The Dark Knight Returns," the Joker murders a television studio audience by deploying "smile gas."

Holmes began his massacre by setting off smoke bombs throughout the theater.

My personal opinion is that the massacre was committed by someone who had spent too much time watching what Hollywood calls entertainment - but in reality is just extreme violence.

From older extremely violent movies like Taxi Driver, to more modern movies like No Country for Old Men, to "critically acclaimed" television series like Sons of Anarchy and Breaking Bad, young Americans are being exposed to a level of savagery never encountered before.

And yes, if you don't think it has something to do with behavioural problems - think again. Fact is, study after study proves without a doubt that violence begets violence. Whether it's glorified killers, drug dealers,  or sadistic criminals, the norm is sickening!

But then again, if he really thinks he is "The Joker," should we really care? I don't think we should. This is one of those crimes committed by the delusional, the deranged, the cowardly. But it was also planed, premeditated, and consciously carried out - by him!

James Eagan Holmes may have become jaded by the gore he witnessed on film. Films may have actually instructed him how to use the guns that he bought - after all, it's obvious he learned to use them somewhere!

Ultra-violent movies and television programs may have taught him to kill, maybe even given him the very idea to do what he did - but that still doesn't excuse his actions.

And because of his actions, Hell has a special place for people like this him. And yes, it's waiting for him!

Story by Tom Correa

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