Colorado movie theater gunman James Holmes’ trial has been postponed indefinitely on Thursday.
District Judge Carlos Samour ordered the delay as attorneys on both sides debated whether the suspected shooter should undergo another psychiatric evaluation.
James Holmes’ trial had been set to begin with jury selection on February 3.
The 25-year-old faces charges of killing 12 people and wounding 70 others during the 2012 attack at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, during a premiere of The Dark Knight.
His attorneys have not disputed that he committed the shootings but have entered plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
James Holmes’ trial has been postponed indefinitely
Throughout a roughly 40-minute hearing on Thursday, James Holmes appeared expressionless as he sat in shackles and in a red prison jumpsuit and grown-in beard. He did not interact with his defense team or the bailiffs.
Prosecutors are challenging at least one of three aspects in the states’ first mental health evaluation and are seeking another examination. The findings of the evaluation have not been publically disclosed but the fact that prosecutors want further evaluation suggests the first exam might have found Holmes was insane.
If James Holmes were found by jurors to have been insane at the time of the shooting, he would be committed to state hospital instead of prison. As such, the findings of any psychiatric evaluations are crucial to the case.
Judge Carlos Samour set future hearings on further testing and other pre-trial issues for December 17 and 18.
A hearing scheduled for November 22 and a capitol motions hearings scheduled from December 2 to December 20 have been cancelled, but in the course of discussion today, the judge indicated he hoped that the trial could start as early as April.
Dr. Lynne Fenton, the psychiatrist who had treated James Holmes, who is accused of killing 12 in Colorado cinema massacre, had before warned police he was a danger to the public.
Dr. Lynne Fenton told police of threatening text messages James Holmes sent after he stopped attending counseling, newly released court documents show.
James Holmes, 25, is charged with multiple counts of murder in the attack during a premier of a Batman film at Aurora theatre.
Prosecutors have rejected a guilty plea and seek the death penalty.
The trial had been scheduled for August, but a judge has pushed it back to February 2014.
Dr Lynne Fenton told police of threatening text messages James Holmes sent after he stopped attending counseling
In an affidavit taken after the shooting and unsealed on Thursday, University of Colorado Denver police Officer Lynn Whitten told investigators that Dr. Lynne Fenton had contacted her in June.
Dr. Lynne Fenton was following a legal requirement to report a specific threat to authorities, according to the document.
Lynn Whitten said the psychiatrist was making the report “due to homicidal statements [James Holmes] had made” and that Dr. Lynne Fenton said he sent threatening text messages to her after he stopped attending counseling sessions.
James Holmes was a graduate student in neuroscience at the University of Colorado Denver but was withdrawing from his studies after failing a key exam.
Previous reports said Dr. Lynne Fenton had told campus authorities about James Holmes, but not that she had made a report of specific threats.
A warrant also unsealed on Thursday described a package sent to Dr. Lynne Fenton before the massacre, apparently by James Holmes. It included a brown notebook labeled “Of Life” that officials believe to be a journal, as well as partially burned $20 bills.
The documents were previously sealed, but a new judge overseeing the case ordered them released following requests from media organizations.
Separately, Judge William Sylvester has removed himself from the case after prosecutors announced they would seek the death penalty.
Judge William Sylvester said the move meant the case would take up so much time that he could not carry out his administrative duties as chief judge of a busy four-county district.
District Judge Carlos Samour took over the case on Monday.
Prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty for James Holmes, who is accused of killing 12 people last July at Aurora cinema in Colorado.
On Friday, prosecutors rejected an offer from James Holmes to plead guilty in order to avoid execution.
James Holmes, 25, is charged with multiple counts of murder and attempted murder in the attack in Aurora, one of the worst mass shootings in US history.
Prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty for James Holmes, who is accused of killing 12 people last July at Aurora cinema in Colorado
Dozens were wounded in the attack at a midnight showing of a Batman film.
“It’s my determination and my intention that in this case for James Eagan Holmes justice is death,” Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler said at Monday’s hearing, which the accused attended.
James Holmes’ parents sat holding hands in the public gallery.
Victims and their families said they did not welcome the thought of a lengthy trial.
Pierce O’Farrill, who was shot three times in the attack, told the Associated Press: “All of us victims would be dragged along potentially for years. It could be 10 or 15 years before he’s executed.
“I would be in my 40s and I’m planning to have a family, and the thought of having to look back and reliving everything at that point in my life, it would be difficult.”
Last week, prosecutors argued that the defence motion for a guilty plea was not valid as a plea deal, but correspondents say such an agreement could still be reached before the case goes to trial.
James Holmes’ defence lawyers were expected to argue he is not guilty because he was legally insane at the time of the shooting on July 20.
But investigators say James Holmes, a former neuroscience graduate student, had stockpiled weapons and ammunition ahead of the attacks.
James Holmes allegedly also booby-trapped his flat to explode, in an apparent bid to distract police from responding to the cinema during the shooting.
In March, Colorado introduced new gun legislation to impose limits on the size of ammunition magazines and expand background checks for gun buyers.
The law bans the type of magazine used to fire dozens of bullets in just a few seconds during the Aurora shooting.
President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit Denver, Colorado, on Wednesday to highlight the bill as part of a campaign for national gun control measures in the wake of a mass shooting at an elementary school in December, in the state of Connecticut.
New details from thousands of emails released Wednesday reveal Colorado gunman James Holmes had a girlfriend around the time of the attack.
His girlfriend was in India at the time of the mass shooting and, according to e-mails, was “pretty freaked out”.
The new information also reveals detailed information about the fear and confusion in the wake of the Aurora, Colorado massacre.
Many of the emails are partially or completely blacked out, the university says to avoid violating privacy laws.
The result is minimal information on James Holmes’ struggles at the school or whether the institution recognized the danger he may have represented.
The emails do shed some light on how the university responded to news that one of its students was allegedly responsible for the attack that killed 12 people and wounded 58 on July 22nd.
James Holmes’ name began to circulate in news reports a few hours after the early-morning shooting.
At 6:47 a.m., Angie Ribera, director of the neuroscience program, noted that the shooter could be the 24-year-old of the same name who had just withdrawn from her department.
“Do you think we should meet with students in his class?” she asked colleagues.
“If they had been close to him, this would definitely be something that I think we should do. But as they were not, I do not know.”
An hour later, officials confirmed James Holmes was the former graduate student, and Ribera grew more alarmed. At the time, police were trying to remove booby-traps he allegedly left at his nearby apartment before leaving for the midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises.
Angie Ribera sent an email to another senior faculty member noting that Holmes was in custody.
“However, he was friendly with 1-2 students in another program and I am worried about the safety of all (neuroscience) students and Faculty as well as the safety of all (medical) students.”
At 8:02am, the administrator of the neuroscience program broke the news to students there and urged them not to post anything to Facebook or Twitter.
Campus officials quickly sought to control the flow of information.
As reporters began to bombard James Holmes’ few acquaintance and professors with inquiries, administrators urged faculty and students to refer all media calls to a spokeswoman.
New details from thousands of emails released Wednesday reveal Colorado gunman James Holmes had a girlfriend around the time of the attack
Faculty quickly began emailing with each other and friends about the news. Larry Hunter, who is listed as director of the Center for Computational Bioscience, was asked about the shooting by a friend.
“Yeah, he was a grad student here, and, it turns out, had a brief romantic relationship with one of the grad students in my program last fall,” Larry Hunter wrote.
“She, fortunately, it turns out is in India right now.”
“She knows and is pretty freaked out,” he said.
Larry Hunter said Wednesday he would not comment.
James Holmes allegedly began stockpiling firearms and ammunition while taking classes in the spring.
In June, prosecutors say, he made threats to a professor, and he filed withdrawal papers June 10 after failing a year-end exam.
The next day he saw his school psychiatrist, who tried to report him to a campus security committee, according to Holmes’ lawyers.
KMGH in Denver Wednesday night reported that that psychiatrist, Dr. Lynne Fenton, reached out to campus police partly because James Holmes talked about killing “a lot of people” but that she opted not to place him under a psychiatric hold because he was withdrawing from the school.
A spokeswoman said she could not comment on the report.
Four days after the attack, campus police chief Doug Abraham said at a news conference that campus police had no information on James Holmes.
The school has since declined to answer detailed questions about James Holmes’ behavior, citing a gag order that remains in effect and federal privacy laws that limit the amount of medical and academic information it can disclose.
Those laws also limited the number of documents released Wednesday.
At the request of defense attorneys, about 100 emails between James Holmes and his family and friends were withheld because they are not covered under Colorado’s Open Records Act.
The remaining documents were released only after a lengthy court battle.
In correspondence from August 7th, an assistant professor told colleagues that he interviewed James Holmes for about 30 minutes during a recruitment visit in February 2011, then noted that his evaluation of Holmes was entered into an internal university system and was still available for examination.
In later correspondence, the campus director of academic support services suggested that the university was looking to get rid of that evaluation from the system.
Jim Finster, the campus director of academic support services, recalled that attorney Annalissa Philbin had “instructed me to purge those data”.
“Admittedly, I have not completed that task yet, but was planning on doing it very shortly,” Jim Finster wrote in an email to Annalissa Philbin.
“Should I change those plans?”
It’s unclear if Annalissa Philbin responded, but the university’s director of media relations forwarded the exchange to another attorney with a blunt message: “What??”
On Wednesday, university officials provided a later email, from August 8th, in which Annalissa Philbin said no information should be purged at that time.
In the days after the shooting, the Arapahoe County District Attorney’s office asked Judge William B. Sylvester to bar the university from releasing records requested by numerous media organizations.
Prosecutors argued that the information could jeopardize James Holmes’ right to a fair trial. Sylvester agreed, but amended his order last month to allow the release after media organizations objected in court.
James Holmes is charged with multiple first-degree murder and attempted murder counts.
He has not entered a plea and won’t do so until after a weeklong preliminary hearing in which prosecutors will present evidence supporting the charges.
That hearing is scheduled to begin January 7th.
James Holmes’ attorneys have said he suffers from a mental illness.
A Halloween mask of alleged Colorado shooter James Holmes was put on eBay for $500 by an anonymous seller.
The creepy, rubber face with bright orange, curly hair led to widespread outrage and disgust, including from victims who were personally affected by the Aurora tragedy.
James Holmes, 24, is believed to have opened fire at the Aurora movie theater on July 20, killing 12 people and wounding 58 others.
The seller hid behind the tag “realface13” and advertised the gruesome disguise with the words: “SHOCK EVERYONE YOU KNOW!. There is nothing more scary than crawling into James Holmes mind and wearing his face.
“His <<soul penetrating eyes>> and <<The Joker>> orange hair makes this mask the most disturbing object you will ever own. Imagine owning the mask of supposedly the most dangerous mass murderer in US history.”
Halloween mask of alleged Colorado shooter James Holmes was put on eBay for $500 by an anonymous seller
The mask was said to have been designed for a private collector. The item was taken off the site by eBay on Friday after being viewed 1,133 times – however no one had placed a bid on it.
Josh Nolan, a father-of-two who was shot at the midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises, told ABC: “Are you kidding me? That just took the cake right there. I’m too upset to think about it.”
It is the policy of eBay to remove products considered offensive which includes those that attempt to profit from disaster or human tragedy. Other banned items are those related to the KKK, Nazis or violent felons.
Facebook has become such a pervasive force in modern society that increasing numbers of employers, and even some psychologists believe people who aren’t on social networking sites are “suspicious”.
The German magazine Der Taggspiegel went so far as to point out that accused theater shooter James Holmes and Norwegian mass murder Anders Behring Breivik have common ground in their lack of Facebook profiles.
On a more tangible level, Forbes.com reports that human resources departments across the country are becoming more wary of young job candidates who don’t use the site.
The common concern among bosses is that a lack of Facebook could mean the applicant’s account could be so full of red flags that it had to be deleted.
German magazine Der Taggspiegel pointed out that accused theater shooter James Holmes and Norwegian mass murder Anders Behring Breivik have common ground in their lack of Facebook profiles
Slate.com tech reporter Farhad Manjoo wrote in an advice column that young people shouldn’t date anyone who isn’t on Facebook.
“If you’re of a certain age and you meet someone who you are about to go to bed with, and that person doesn’t have a Facebook page, you may be getting a false name. It could be some kind of red flag,” he says.
Farhad Manjoo points out that these judgements don’t apply to older people who were already productive adults before social media became widespread.
The tech news site Slashdot summed up Der Taggspiegel’s story about social networking as “not having a Facebook account could be the first sign that you are a mass murderer”.
It points out that James Holmes, who is accused of killing 12 people and an unborn child and wounding 58 others at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, and Anders Breivik, who murdered 77 people with a car bomb and mass shooting, did not use Facebook and had small online footprints.
Anders Breivik used MySpace and James Holmes was reportedly on the hookup site Adult Friend Finder.
Psychologist Christopher Moeller told the magazine that using Facebook has become a sign of having a healthy social network.
Psychologists have noted that James Holmes, along with several noted mass murderers, have lacked any real friends.
And this is what the argument boils down to: It’s the suspicion that not being on Facebook, which has become so normal among young adults, is a sign that you’re abnormal and dysfunctional, or even dangerous, ways.
James Holmes, the suspect gunman at Aurora cinema, has been formally charged with 142 criminal counts in one of America’s worst mass shootings.
James Holmes, 24, faces 24 counts of murder, two for each of the 12 people killed, and 116 counts of attempted murder, two each for the 58 injured.
For each person killed he faces a count of murder with deliberation and one of murder with extreme indifference.
If convicted, James Holmes could face the death penalty.
James Holmes, the suspect gunman at Aurora cinema, has been formally charged with 142 criminal counts in one of America's worst mass shootings
James Holmes opened fire at random in a crowded movie theatre showing Batman film The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora near Denver on 20 July, according to the authorities.
The judge had banned cameras from Monday’s hearing, so there were no pictures of the defendant, who appeared dazed during his first court appearance last week.
James Holmes was reportedly quiet and unemotional during the hearing. At times, he appeared to be trying to focus his eyes.
Denver Post reporter John Ingold tweeted that the accused appeared “not quite engaged, but listening”.
When asked if he approved a delay in his bail hearing, the defendant leaned towards his lawyer and appeared to say “okay”, and then said “yes” quietly to the judge.
Survivors of the shooting and family members of those killed attended the hearing.
Several wore Batman shirts, including Don Lader, who was in the eighth row of the theatre when the shooting began. He told CNN he had seen the movie twice since that day.
Among the counts on the prosecutors’ sheet, James Holmes faces a gun charge and another of possessing an explosive or incendiary device.
James Holmes allegedly wired his apartment with enough explosives to destroy the entire building had they been detonated. It took authorities several days to dismantle the booby traps.
Court documents filed on Friday by defense lawyers said the suspect had been under the care of a psychiatrist at the University of Colorado Denver, where he had been in the process of dropping out as a neuroscience PhD student.
Monday’s hearing was also expected to address a package – discovered in a campus mailroom three days after the shootings – which the suspect addressed to that psychiatrist, Dr. Lynne Fenton.
The package reportedly contained descriptions of an attack, including drawings of a stick-figure gunman shooting people.
The defense team is seeking a court order requiring prosecutors to immediately turn over all evidence relating to the seizure of a package, citing doctor-patient privilege.
They have also lodged a motion to find out who leaked the existence of the package to the media, which they say could jeopardize the suspect’s right to a fair trial.
Prosecutors have said it will be several weeks before a decision is made on whether or not to seek the death penalty in the case.
As of Sunday, 10 victims of the 20 July shooting remained in hospital, four of them in a critical condition.
Ashley Moser, the critically injured mother of a six-year-old girl killed in the rampage in Aurora, has suffered a miscarriage, her family said on Saturday.
James Holmes, the man accused of killing 12 people in a shooting at a Batman film screening in Aurora, Colorado, has appeared in court for the first time.
James Holmes, 24, sat in court in a red jail suit with dyed orange hair, and appeared sleepy during the proceedings.
Nine of 58 people wounded by the gunman remain in critical condition.
On Sunday, President Barack Obama met survivors and families of the dead as hundreds of people took part in a service of remembrance.
James Holmes is to be held without bail at a jail in Centennial, Colorado, the judge said.
He is accused of throwing two canisters of gas into a busy midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises before firing at random at the crowd. Witnesses say he was wearing full body armour during the attack.
It is reported that a semi-automatic rifle jammed during the attack and the gunman switched to a weapon with less firepower, possibly saving some lives.
James Holmes, the man accused of killing 12 people in a shooting at Batman film screening in Aurora, has appeared in court for the first time
James Holmes was being held in solitary confinement. Police say he is not co-operating with them.
The dead include a six-year-old girl and two US military servicemen.
James Holmes appeared in court at 09:30 local time for the first stage in a process likely to see him face at least 12 counts of first-degree murder. He could face further charges of aggravated assault and weapons violations.
Prosecutors are to formally file charges on 30 July.
One prosecutor has warned it could take at least a year before James Holmes stands trial, the AP reported.
The office of prosecutor Carol Chambers is considering whether to press for the death penalty for James Holmes, a decision that will be made in consultation with the victims’ families, she said.
On Monday morning uniformed police were stationed outside the court house, and deputies were patrolling the roofs of court buildings.
President Barack Obama said that when he visited Aurora on Sunday he had shared hugs and tears, but also laughter as the families recounted the lives of their loved ones.
He added that he visited as much as a father and husband as a president, and that Aurora was in the nation’s thoughts.
Barack Obama said: “I confessed to them words were inadequate but my main task was to serve as a representative of the entire country and say we are thinking about them at this moment each and every day.”
Both President Barack Obama and his Republican Party challenger, Mitt Romney, curtailed their election campaigns in the wake of the Aurora attack, dropping advertising in Colorado state out of respect for victims and their families.
Meanwhile, residents have been laying flowers at a memorial site near the Century cinema and thousands of people have been participating in vigils outside City Hall.
Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan told the crowd on Sunday: “While our hearts are broken, our community is not.”
On Saturday police managed to gain access to James Holmes’ flat, which had been laid with booby traps connected to explosives that could have killed someone entering through the door.
The FBI is now collecting evidence, and investigators say a computer found inside his home could provide crucial details.
Several US media outlets have reported that a Batman mask and poster were in the flat, but police have not confirmed this.
Police said the suspect had acted with “calculation and deliberation”, adding that he had been stockpiling ammunition for months.
Over the course of eight weeks he bought 6,300 rounds of ammunition: 3,000 for a .233 semi-automatic AR-15 rifle, 3,000 for two .40 Glock 22 pistols and 300 cartridges for a pump-action shotgun.
James Holmes bought the four weapons legally.
Authorities say the suspect is not linked to terror groups and have not established a motive for the attack. James Holmes had no criminal record other than a speeding fine.
James Holmes grew up in San Diego and was pursuing a PhD in neuroscience at the University of Colorado in Denver. School officials have said that he recently left the programme.
Names of the dead in Aurora cinema shooting:
• Jessica Ghawi, 24
• Veronica Moser, 6
• John Larimer, 27
• Alexander Boik, 18
• Jesse Childress, 29
• Jonathan Blunk, 26
• Rebecca Ann Wingo, 32
• Alex Sullivan, 27
• Gordon Cowden, 51
• Micayla Medek, 23
• Alexander Teves, 24
• Matthew McQuinn, 27 (presumptively identified, awaiting confirmation)
The apartment of James Holmes, the man suspected of killing 12 people at a Batman movie screening in the US state of Colorado, has now been cleared of explosives, police say.
Robots were initially used at James Holmes’ home in Aurora, but agents still had to enter without setting off any remaining devices.
Police said the suspect had acted with “calculation and deliberation”, taking ammunition deliveries for months.
The Arapahoe county coroner has now released the names of the dead.
Michael Dobersen said all the victims’ deaths were related to gunshot wounds.
In addition to those killed, 58 people were also hurt in the attack at a Century 16 cinema in Aurora, a suburb of Denver.
The apartment of James Holmes, the man suspected of killing 12 people at a Batman movie screening in Colorado, has been cleared of explosives
A man in a gas mask and body armor threw tear gas canisters at a midnight screening, then fired on the crowd in the cinema.
James Holmes, 24, was arrested outside the cinema, police said.
President Barack Obama is to visit Aurora on Sunday to honor the victims, the White House said. He will visit bereaved families and meet local officials.
FBI agents and police discovered the home was booby-trapped when they used a camera at the end of a 12-foot pole to look inside.
Aurora police chief Dan Oates said: “I’ve personally never seen anything like what we’ve found in there.”
Early on Sunday the bomb squad staged a small controlled explosion in the building and officers disarmed trip-wires and an incendiary device.
The first trip wire was strung across the doorway of the flat, and inside were reported to be jars filled with accelerants, chemicals that would explode when mixed together and more than 30 improvised grenades.
Dan Oates said: “This apartment was designed to kill whoever entered it,” adding that would most probably have been a police officer.
“If you think we are angry, we sure as hell are angry about what has happened to our city, to the wonderful people who live here and what he threatened to do to one of our police officers,” he said.
In terms of laying charges, Dan Oates said: “Everything is pointing to a state prosecution on all charges.”
Residents were evacuated from the building and four other premises nearby.
Hundreds of mourners joined a vigil near the cinema in Aurora on Friday night, leaving candles and flowers outside.
James Holmes was said to be armed with a rifle, a shotgun and two pistols when he launched his assault on the midnight screening of the new Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises.
He also bought 6,000 rounds of ammunition over the internet, Dan Oates said.
The police chief said that all weapons and ammunition were purchased legally within the past few months, and that the suspect had received a high volume of packages to his home and work place.
In a statement released late on Saturday, British actor Christian Bale, who plays Batman in the film, said: “Words cannot express the horror that I feel. I cannot begin to truly understand the pain and grief of the victims and their loved ones, but my heart goes out to them.”
Among the dead listed by the coroner were a six-year-old girl whose mother was injured and two US servicemen.
The University of Colorado Hospital said it was still treating five patients in critical condition.
The Medical Center of Aurora said four of its patients remained in intensive care.
Authorities have established no terrorism link, nor any motive, and James Holmes had no criminal record other than a speeding fine.
Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson told Reuters news agency that James Holmes was being held in solitary confinement for his own protection.
“We typically do this in high-profile cases. It has nothing to do with any specific threat,” he said.
James Holmes will appear at Arapahoe County District Court, in nearby Centennial, Colorado, on Monday at 09:30 local time.
Aurora cinema massacre may have been inspired by a Batman comic book strip, it emerged on Friday.
The bloodbath is a chilling copycat of a 1986 Batman comic strip which features a deranged gunman opening fire in a cinema.
In the second issue of The Dark Knight Returns, written by Frank Miller – the creative mind behind Sin City and 300 – gunman Arnold Crimp opens fire in a pornographic theatre, killing three people, after listening to Led Zepplin’s classic track Stairway to Heaven.
Aurora cinema bloodbath is a chilling copycat of a 1986 Batman comic strip which features a deranged gunman opening fire in a cinema
Text from the page reads: “Arnold Crimp fingers the cold steel thing in his pocket and stares at the movie marquee and does not throw up.
“He thinks about Led Zeppelin and how they are trying to kill him.
“He had not known about Led Zeppelin until Father Don on TV had explained it last night.
“Father Don said that Led Zeppelin hid a prayer to Satan in their song Stairway to Heaven.
“They hid it very well. They recorded it backwards.
“Arnold Crimp took the album from the record store where he worked until they fired him this afternoon and transferred Stairway to Heaven to tape.
“Then he played the tape backwards. He played it forty-seven times until he was absolutely certain that Father Don was right.”
Arnold Crimp then walks into a cinema, which is screening a pornographic film called My Sweet Satan, and opens fire.
James Holmes motives behind the massacre are unknown, but if he was a fan of the Batman comics, then he may well have read the issue featuring Arnold Crimp’s killing-spree.
The comic itself is still in print, and on Friday it was available in book shores, priced $20.
New reports give details about James Holmes, the psychotic gunman who killed 12 people at a screening of the new Batman film on Thursday night.
James Holmes, 24, was a PhD student who was described as “really smart” but was in the process of dropping out of graduate school at the University of Colorado Denver.
He is said to have had few friends and barely any social life, instead spending hours indoors playing the video game Guitar Hero.
Police are currently baffled as to Holmes’s motives for launching the deadly attack which injured 71 people as they watched blockbuster The Dark Knight Rises at a midnight showing in Aurora, a suburb of Denver.
However, one clue may come in a report that the killer, whose family comes from San Diego, had dyed his hair red and described himself as “the Joker”, implying that he was inspired by the popular Batman series itself.
Although James Holmes described himself as “easy-going”, neighbors and classmates recalled an anti-social recluse who had little contact with others.
Officials do not currently believe that the gunman had terror links, adding to the mystery of his possible motives.
“It clearly looks like a deranged individual,” NYPD police chief Ray Kelly said.
“He had his hair painted red. He said he was <<The Joker>>, obviously the enemy of Batman.”
A neighbor also reported that police, who were searching James Holmes’s apartment for explosives, asked him if he had seen “a white guy with crazy hair, possibly dyed unnatural colors”, the Denver Post said.
But neighbors at university housing in Denver described James Holmes as a recluse who kept himself to himself. One student said: “No one knew him. No one.”
James Holmes was a PhD student who was described as “really smart” but was in the process of dropping out of graduate school at the University of Colorado Denver
James Holmes – who had been working towards his PhD for a year before dropping out – had one techno song blaring from his stereo in the hours before the massacre and left the music on repeat in his booby-trapped apartment as he departed to commit the massacre.
He was also reportedly addicted to video game Guitar Hero.
His shocked mother in San Diego confirmed that he was behind the massacre, telling reporters: “You’ve got the right man.”
After graduating from Westview High School in 2006, James Holmes studied neuroscience at the University of California Riverside, where he graduated with honors.
Neighbors in California said that James Holmes moved to Colorado to attend graduate school after failing to find a job.
The university said he was dropping out because of academic issues, and had not had any disciplinary problems.
The gunman described himself as “quiet and easy-going” in a rental application last year, and high school classmates confirmed that impression in interviews with the Los Angeles Times.
Dan Kim, currently a student at UC San Diego, said: “He didn’t seem like a troublemaker at all. He just seemed like he wanted to get in and out, and go to college.”
James Holmes ran in Westview’s cross country team with Tori Burton, who said: “He was very quiet. He was a nice guy when you did occasionally talk to him. But he was definitely more introverted.”
Another classmate, Keith Goodwin, spoke of his shock at seeing the “generally pleasant” young man hit the news for his role in the massacre.
“James was certainly not someone I would have ever imagined shooting somebody,” said Keith Goodwin.
James Holmes has only ever had contact with police over a traffic violation, according to the New York Times, who spoke to two law-enforcement officials about the gunman.
“He’s not on anybody’s radar screen,” said one official, while the other added: “This guy is somewhat of an enigma. Nobody knows anything about him.”
The killer’s family appealed for privacy as they described their anguish at seeing James Holmes involved in massacre.
“Our hearts go out to those who were involved in this tragedy and to the families and friends of those involved,” they said in a statement released by San Diego police.
“We ask that the media respect our privacy during this difficult time.
“Our family is cooperating with authorities in both San Diego, California and Aurora, Colorado. We are still trying to process this information and we appreciate that people will respect our privacy.”
Jackie Mitchell, a furniture mover who lives several blocks from the suspect’s apartment building in Colorado, said he had drinks with James Holmes at a local bar on Tuesday night, though he gave no sign of being distressed or violent.
After James 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,” Jackie Mitchell said.
When Jackie Mitchell saw James Holmes’s photo after the shooting, “the hair stood up on my back,” he said.
“I know this guy.”
Another neighbor, Rachel Reed, said she met James Holmes in a local bar when she put rap music by Lil Wayne on the jukebox.
He came over and “made some racially charged comments about rap,” she said. “He seemed like he was a normal dude. He was a little buzzed.”
James Holmes is not talking to police and has asked for a lawyer, according to a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation.
His first court appearance is set for Monday morning at 9.30.
US begin to mourn the 12 people killed by a gunman at a showing of the new Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises, and a candlelit vigil has been held in Aurora, Colorado.
US President Barack Obama ordered flags flown at half mast.
A man in a gas mask and body armour threw tear gas canisters at a midnight screening, then fired on the crowd, killing 12 and injuring 58.
Suspect James Holmes, 24, was arrested outside the cinema, police said.
He will appear at Arapahoe County District Court, in nearby Centennial, Colorado, on Monday at 09:30 local time.
Hundreds of mourners gathered in Aurora for the vigil.
Candles and flowers were left on the lawn. One letter read: “To all the innocent souls… This is for you. We will never forget. This is Aurora.”
At the Queen of Peace Roman Catholic church, Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila told mourners: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. The heart of our Father is stronger than the bullets that killed 12 people.”
In a briefing at the end of the day in Colorado, an emotional Governor John Hickenlooper confirmed that the casualty figure had been revised down one, to 70 people killed or injured.
Thirty people remained in hospital, John Hickenlooper said, with 11 of those in a critical condition.
“It’s an act that defies description. Everyone I’ve talked to all day is filled with an anger that can’t find focus,” he said.
Aurora police chief Dan Oates said the attempt to defuse complex booby-traps, explosive devices and “things that look like mortar rounds” at James Holmes’s home had been abandoned for the night, with federal government experts due to arrive on Saturday.
“I’ve personally never seen anything like what we’ve found in there,” the police chief said.
Suspect James Holmes, 24, was arrested outside the cinema
James Holmes was said to be armed with a rifle, a shotgun and two pistols when he launched his assault. All weapons and ammunition were bought legally within the past few months, Dan Oates said.
Authorities have established no terrorism link, nor any motive, and James Holmes had no criminal record in Aurora.
In New York, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the suspect had dyed his hair red and told police he was the Joker, Batman‘s infamous nemesis.
Cinemas in that city tightened security at Batman showings following the attack, and the French premiere of the film in Paris was cancelled.
The film’s director, Christopher Nolan, issued a statement expressing his horror.
“The movie theatre is my home, and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me,” Christopher Nolan said.
“Nothing any of us can say could ever adequately express our feelings for the innocent victims of this appalling crime, but our thoughts are with them and their families.”
Despite a strong past academic record, James Holmes was in the process of withdrawing from a doctoral programme in neuroscience at the University of Colorado-Denver.
One neighbor told Agence France-Presse that James Holmes “was always wearing camouflage pants”, adding: “We did not know him well because he talked to nobody. He was always locked up behind his door.”
His family said in a written statement: “Our hearts go out to those who were involved in this tragedy and to the families and friends of those involved. We ask that the media respect our privacy during this difficult time.”
Police have given no indication of the names of the dead, the last of whose bodies was removed from the cinema at about 17:00 on Friday.
One woman known to have been killed was Jessica Ghawi, also known as Jessica Redfield, an aspiring broadcaster and a regular blogger.
In June, Jessica Ghawi, 24, narrowly missed being caught in a shooting rampage in Toronto, leaving the scene five minutes before a man opened fire at the Eaton Centre shopping mall.
The attack began minutes into the showing at about 00:30 local time, when the gunman apparently entered the cinema through an emergency exit door near the front of the auditorium.
Reports said the attacker had a ticket but left the cinema, pretending to receive a phone call, before returning fully armed.
He wore a bullet-proof vest, tactical body armor and gloves, and was carrying an AR-15 military-style, semi-automatic rifle, a shotgun and two pistols, police said.
He threw two tear gas grenades, then opened fire with a rifle. There was chaos as movie-goers fled, some dressed in costume as heroes and villains.
Ten people were killed at the cinema and two others died later in hospital of their wounds. Among the injured were a four-month-old baby, who was released from hospital after treatment, and a six-year-old child.
One witness said the gunman had been “slowly making his way up the stairs and just firing – picking random people”. At least one person in an adjacent auditorium was injured when a bullet went through the wall, police said.
Another eyewitness, identified only as Pam, said: “He fired a canister into the air. It shot right into the air, then I started to hear the bang, bang, bang of a gun.”
Salina Jordan, 19, told the Denver Post she had seen one girl shot in the cheek, and a girl who appeared to be about nine years old with a gunshot wound to the stomach.
Informed of the massacre at dawn, President Barack Obama spoke briefly to a campaign rally before returning to the White House to address the situation.
“There are going to be other days for politics,” he said.
“This, I think, is a day for prayer and reflection.”
Cinema shooting suspect:
• James Holmes, 24, was a former neuroscience PhD student at University of Colorado-Denver
• Attended high school in San Diego, California, where his parents still live
• He lived in an apartment in north of Aurora, about five miles from the cinema
• Only previous brush with the law was a summons for speeding in October 2011
Colorado gun laws:
• Residents allowed to keep guns in homes, offices and vehicles, but can only carry them in public with a permit
• There are no limits to how many guns can be bought a month, and the state permits sale of automatic weapons
• No waiting period for buying a handgun, both state and federal state law requires criminal background checks
• Since 1998 Columbine massacre, 20 miles from scene of Friday’s shooting, it has become easier to buy guns in US – a national ban on assault weapons sale expired in 2004