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Entries in Colorado shooting (24)

Thursday
Jul262012

Did James Holmes Send Notebook Detailing Shooting Plans to School?

RJ Sangosti-Pool/Getty Images(AURORA, Colo.) -- Accused movie theater shooter James Holmes may have mailed a notebook to his school detailing his plans to carry out a massacre, sources say.

The notebook that is believed to have been written by Holmes was mailed to the University of Colorado, where Holmes had been a student until dropping out last month, ABC News has learned.

Fox News reported that the notebook was mailed to a specific psychiatrist at the university and that it contained "full details about how he was going to kill people, drawings of what he was going to do in it, and drawings and illustrations of the massacre."

There are conflicting reports on whether the notebook arrived at the university before or after the massacre, but it was found on Monday during a search of the mailroom, ABC News learned on Wednesday.

Holmes is believed to have walked into the Aurora, Colo., theater dressed in riot gear and brandishing at least three weapons last Friday around midnight during the premiere of The Dark Knight Rises.  He allegedly set off two smoke bombs before opening fire on the movie theater patrons with an assault rifle, shotgun and a handgun.

Twelve people died and 58 were wounded in the carnage.

The university has not confirmed the existence of the notebook, but issued a statement saying that the "Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus can confirm that the suspicious package discovered at the Facilities Services building on Monday, July 23, 2012, was delivered to the campus by the United States Postal Service that same day."

Discovery of the package prompted the evacuation of the building for about 90 minutes on Wednesday, starting at 12:26 p.m., the school said.

The school also refused to say whether Holmes was seeing a psychiatrist.  Campus officials have insisted they handled the Holmes case correctly.

"To the best of our knowledge, we did everything we should have done," the statement read.

Holmes is scheduled to be arraigned on July 30 in Aurora District Court.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul252012

James Holmes Bought Rifle After Failing College Exam

RJ Sangosti-Pool/Getty Images(DENVER) -- Accused movie theater gunman James Holmes purchased a high-powered rifle hours after failing a key oral exam at the University of Colorado, ABC News has learned.

Holmes added the weapon to his already growing arsenal on June 7, hours after he took a key oral exam at the college.  ABC News affiliate KMGH-TV in Denver reported that he failed the exam.  Three days later, he dropped out of the neurosciences program with no explanation.

Holmes, 24, is being held without bond in connection with the shooting, which left 12 people dead and 58 injured on July 20 during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises.

Experts say it's possible Holmes had an underlying mental illness that was triggered by the stress of failure.

"All of those things could actually make dormant schizophrenia come out, and come out relatively quickly," said Marisa Randazzo, a psychologist who studies targeted violence.

Using the kinds of guns Holmes allegedly fired requires training and practice, and law enforcement officials are now trying to figure out where and with whom.

For now, Holmes is being held in the Arapahoe County Jail.  Holmes' odd behavior was first seen by the public when he appeared in court Monday looking dazed, alternately bug-eyed and nodding with his eyes closing.

But ABC News has learned that his loopy court appearance was just one of several bizarre behaviors.

In the hours after his arrest Friday for the massacre at the Aurora, Colo., movie theater, Holmes stared at the wall in the Arapahoe Police Headquarters with his eyebrows twitching.

Holmes told police he was the fictitious Batman villain, the Joker, and when cops put evidence bags over his hands to preserve traces of gunpowder residue, he pretended the bags were puppets, law enforcement sources told KMGH-TV.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul252012

Colorado Shooting Miracle: Woman Shot in Face to Recover Fully

Petra Anderson is shown at her graduation from University of the Pacific in June 2012. (Courtesy Chloe Anderson)(DENVER) -- Petra Anderson had important plans for her summer.  After graduating from University of the Pacific in June, Anderson, 22, returned home to Aurora, Colo., determined to sit by her mother's side, holding her hand as she is treated for cancer.

Kim Anderson was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009.  It went into remission in 2011, only to return 18 months later, when it spread to other parts of her body.

Now, it is Kim Anderson who sits by Petra's side in a Denver hospital, holding the hand of the daughter she nearly lost.

Petra Anderson was in the Century 16 movie theater with friends last Thursday night when a gunman opened fire at the midnight screening of the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises.  Petra's arm was riddled by three pieces of buckshot from a shotgun blast.  Another piece hit her face, passing through her nose and into her brain, stopping just short of the back of her head.

"The whole thing was just surreal.  It was like a dream," Petra's sister, Chloe Anderson, told ABC News.  "They did tell us she'd been shot in the face, and I didn't know what that would look like.  There was blood on her, and her face was swollen, but it was still her, and that was a relief. "

Doctors initially feared the worst, telling Petra Anderson's family that if she lived, she could be paralyzed or have speech problems due to severe brain damage.

But after multiple surgeries on Friday, doctors told her family they expected Anderson to make a full recovery.  Remarkably, while removing the shot from her brain and repairing the damage, doctors discovered a fluid-filled "void" in her brain that she may have had since birth.  Although these voids are not uncommon, the position of this particular cavity may have saved Petra's life.

According to Chloe Anderson, the surgeon who operated on Petra said this "channel" may have provided a kind of pathway for the piece of shot, guiding it through her brain and avoiding critical areas.

"If [the shot] had deviated, it could have hit major, major things," Chloe said.  "It could have hit a blood vessel or her brain stem.  He didn't know how it's possible for the bullet to travel so straight."

Petra may still face additional surgeries, including optional facial reconstruction where the shot hit her nose.  Her family is grateful and relieved that she will ultimately pull through, but there is now a new battle they must fight: Petra's medical bills, which they estimate may surpass $100,000.

It is a stark new reality many of the victims of the Colorado massacre now face -- how to pay potentially staggering medical bills now and cover any ongoing psychological treatment down the road.

According to Nancy Lewis, Executive Director of the Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance (COVA), there is a victim compensation fund set up by the 18th Judicial District of Colorado.  Victims can apply for help with medical expenses, psychological support and lost wages after any insurance has reached its maximum coverage.

It is not yet known how many of the victims have health insurance and what their financial, medical and psychological needs will be.  In the aftermath of the Columbine shootings, COVA formed a committee to conduct what they call "life studies" on the injured.  After a year, donations were distributed proportionately based on the results.  Lewis said a similar model could be applied here.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul252012

Lawsuit Filed Against Colorado Theater, Warner Bros., James Holmes' Docs

Thomas Cooper/Getty Images(AURORA, Colo.) -- The first lawsuit stemming from last week's shooting spree at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater that left 12 dead and 58 wounded was filed Tuesday by a friend of one of those killed.

According to Torrence Brown. Jr., he was left with "extreme trauma" by the incident although he was not physically injured.  Brown's friend, A. J. Boik, died in the shooting-spree, which police blame on 24-year-old former doctoral student James Holmes.

The lawsuit states that doctors treating Holmes for an undisclosed illness were negligent for failing to properly supervise him.

Brown is also suing the Century 16 movie theater where the shooting took place for failing to equip the emergency exits with alarms or manning them with security guards.  Witnesses said that Holmes entered through an exit door he had initially jimmied open before the movie started.

Furthermore, the lawsuit names Warner Bros., producer of The Dark Knight Rises, for excessive violence in the film, which allegedly allowed Holmes to fool people into thinking that he was part of the movie.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul242012

James Holmes' Behavior Sign of Psychosis or Faking It, Expert Says

RJ Sangosti-Pool/Getty Images(AURORA, Colo.) -- Accused movie theater gunman James Holmes was not on drugs when he appeared dazed in court, but experts are looking for explanations for his odd behavior that included turning evidence bags on his hands into puppets after his arrest, sources told ABC News.

The loopy, seemingly unconcerned actions by the former Ph.D student accused of killing 12 people and wounding 58 others is seen by some as signs of psychosis -- or that he's faking it.

Sources tell ABC News that Holmes was not on drugs or medication at the time of the hearing, but he has demonstrated a pattern of bizarre behavior since his arrest outside an Aurora, Colo., movie theater last Friday.

When Holmes was arrested he told police he was the fictitious Batman villain, The Joker.  When police put evidence bags over his hands to preserve traces of gunpowder residue, Holmes pretended the bags were puppets, law enforcement sources told ABC News.

Holmes has acted unfazed by his arrest, police say.  He has been uncooperative since he was taken into custody, giving investigators little information, and yet disclosing his apartment was booby trapped with dozens of explosives.

His behavior in court Monday was particularly strange.  Unshaven, with died orange hair, Holmes alternated between staring wide-eyed to closing his eyes and appearing to nod off.

His lawyer even had to nudge him to rise when the judge entered the courtroom.  He said nothing during the proceedings, in which he was held without bond.

Some observers wondered if Holmes was on drugs or being medicated.  Sources told ABC News, he was not on drugs, leading to expert theories that he may have been in the grips of a "psychotic episode," exhausted from stress or simply faking it.

"I think there are two possibilities going on here," Marissa Randazzo, former chief research psychologist for the U.S. Secret Service and an expert in mass shootings, told ABC's Good Morning America on Tuesday.

"One is that he is in the middle of a psychotic episode which is quite possible.  We see him distracted at multiple points, an almost sort of 'coming to' and trying to figure out where he is and process what's going on," she said.  "The other thing that we're seeing -- and we've seen some of this behavior in the past couple months -- might suggest mania.  Meaning hyperactivity, hyper energy, been possibly up and not sleeping for days.  What we might be seeing here is the post effects."

But Randazzo also said there was a third possibility: he might simply be faking it.

"It's possible," she said when asked if Holmes' behavior could be all an act.  "It is possible.  We'll leave that open," she said, adding that most people who lie about that sort of behavior are sociopaths and "what we've heard about his history does not suggest sociopath at all."

"Let's keep that in mind that he was studying neuroscience.  He was studying exactly the type of brain issues that we're going to be talking about throughout this whole case," she said.

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Tuesday
Jul242012

Colorado Shooting Survivors Grieve for Hero Boyfriends

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(AURORA, Colo.) -- Of the 12 people killed in the Aurora, Colo., theater shooting, four of them were men who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect their girlfriends.  Now, each of these women are struggling to come to terms with both their grief and their gratitude.

Alexander Teves, 24, attended the midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises with his girlfriend Amanda Lindgren, 24, and another friend.

When suspected gunman James Holmes opened fire in the sold out theater, Teves immediately lunged to block Lindgren from the gunfire.

"I was really, really confused at first about what was going on, so confused," Lindgren told ABC News.  "But, it's like Alex didn't even hesitate.  Because I sat there for a minute, not knowing what was going on, and he held me down and he covered my head and he said, 'Shh.  Stay down.  It's ok.  Shh just stay down.'  So I did."

Teves blocked the bullets from Lindgren but he was shot and killed.  She was not hit.

"He was my angel that night, but he was my angel every day I knew him," Lindgren said.  "I'm broken."

Lindgren reflected on the profoundly close relationship she had with Teves, saying that the couple would not go an hour in the day "without missing each other terribly."

"My other half was just ripped apart from me and so for me it's still unreal," she said.  "I can't picture my life without him.  How do you?  When someone loves you that much and you love somebody that much…how do you believe that this is real?  And of all places.  We were in that theater, that specific room.  We were just supposed to watch a movie."

When asked if she thought Teves knew he was putting himself in danger for her, Lindgren said, "I know he did.  He'd do anything for me.  He always told me that, too.  I just wish I could have protected him the same way he protected me."

Elsewhere in theater nine, U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class John Larimer, 26, and his girlfriend Julia Vojtsek, 23, went through a similar situation; they were sitting in the middle of the theater when the shooting began.

"John immediately and instinctively covered me and brought me to the ground in order to protect me from any danger," Vojtsek wrote in a statement.  "Moments later, John knowingly shielded me from a spray of gunshots.  It was then I believe John was hit with a bullet that would have very possibly struck me.  I feel very strongly that I was saved by John and his ultimate kindness."

The couple had known each other since they were 21 and 18 years old when they met working at a Chili's in Illinois, where they are both from.

In addition to these two couples, Matthew McQuinn, 27, and Jon Blunk, 26, died saving their girlfriends in similar ways.  Their girlfriends Samantha Yowler, 26, and Jansen Young, 21, did not respond to requests for comment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul242012

California Man Arrested After Pretending to Have Gun at "Batman" Movie

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office(NORWALK, Calif.) -- Just two days after a movie theater shooting in Colorado left 12 people dead and 58 others injured, police in Norwalk, Calif., say they've arrested a man after he allegedly caused a ruckus during a screening of The Dark Night Rises last Sunday.

Apparently upset that the movie was slow in getting started, Clark Tabor, 52, reportedly held a cellphone in the air and yelled, “Does anyone have a gun?” and “I should go off like in Colorado.”

The allusions to the shooting in Aurora, Colo., which also took place during a screening of the latest Batman movie, were all too real for other spectators, who became concerned that Tabor was carrying a gun in his backpack.

Police were called and Tabor was arrested for making criminal threats.  No weapon was found in his backpack.

Now held on $50,000 bail, Tabor will be in court Tuesday to face arraignment.

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Monday
Jul232012

Obama Meets with Victims, Families in Aurora, Colorado

SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages(AURORA, Colo.) -- As the nation tries to piece together what drove the largest mass shooting in U.S. history, President Obama traveled to the town of Aurora, Colo., on Sunday to console the wounded and the loved ones of those lost in Friday’s movie theater tragedy.

After more than two and a half hours of private meetings with the distraught victims, he emerged, red-eyed, to quote scripture.

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes,” the president said in a hallway of University of Colorado Hospital, quoting from Revelation 21:4.  “Neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain any more.  For the former things have passed away.”

Obama told assembled press of his mindset when he approaches families who have lost their own.

“I come to them not so much as a president, but as a father and husband,” he said.  “And I think that the reason these stories have such an impact on us is because we can all understand what it would be to have somebody we love taken from us.  What it would be like.”

Those who met with the president held conversations “filled with memory,” he said.

“It was an opportunity for families to describe how wonderful their brother, or their son or daughter, was and the lives that they have touched,” he said.

Admitting that words were inadequate in these situations, Obama said he tried to assure them that the world had them in their prayers.

Twelve were killed when a gunman unloaded four weapons’ full of ammunition into a packed midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises, the new Batman movie.  Police say the suspect, James Holmes, wounded an additional 58 in the chaos, most of them through gunfire.  The high number of casualties has made it the largest such incident in the country’s record.

[CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE 12 PEOPLE WHO DIED]

Remarking on national attention to “the perpetrator of this evil act,” the president said he was sure his memory would fade away after feeling the “full impact” of justice.

“What will be remembered, are the good people who were impacted by this tragedy,” Obama said.

Five minutes away from the theater, the university hospital received 23 of those injured in the attack.  Ten remained as of the president’s visit, with seven in critical condition.

The president met with some of those remaining patients in the intensive care ward.  Two young women in particular stood out in his mind -- Allie Young, 19, and best friend Stephanie Davies.

Young, according to the president, was seated very closely to the gunman when he threw canisters of smoke or tear gas into the crowd.  Jumping out of her seat to warn the moviegoers, she was instantly shot in the neck, rupturing an artery.

“Apparently as she dropped down to the floor, Stephanie -- 21 years old -- had the presence to drop down with her, pull her out the aisle, place her fingers over where Allie had been wounded, and apply pressure the entire time while the gunman was still shooting,” Obama said.  “Allie told Stephanie she needed to run.”

Davies refused, said the president, and the young woman instead dialed 9-1-1 with her other hand.  She remained with her friend until authorities arrived and then helped move her across two parking lots to awaiting ambulances.

“They represent what’s best of us, and they assure us that out of this darkness a brighter day is going to come,” the president said.

Obama spent about three hours total in Colorado after his plane touched down at Buckley Air Force Base, which itself was affected by the tragedy.  The base lost two service members: airman Staff Sgt. Jesse Childress, 29, and Petty Officer 3rd Class John Larimer, 27.

The president also met with local officials in Aurora, including Gov. John Hickenlooper, Mayor Steve Hogan, and police chief Daniel Oates, who accompanied him to the hospital.

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Monday
Jul232012

Colorado Shooting Suspect Was Turned Away from Gun Range

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(AURORA, Colo.) -- James Holmes, the man who allegedly killed 12 people and wounded 58 at a packed screening of the latest Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises, applied to join a Colorado gun range last month, but was rejected by the owner, who found him "creepy."

Glenn Rotkovich, who owns the Lead Valley Range in Byers, Colo., told ABC News that Holmes applied for membership about a month ago via email, but when Rotkovich called him to follow up, he said he got a "bizarre," Batman-inspired voicemail message.

He told his staff not to allow Holmes into the club if he showed up for an orientation.

The gun range owner's reaction adds to a growing portrait of the 24-year-old accused of carrying out the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, and who police say rigged his apartment with dozens of explosive devices set to go off when the door was opened.

The search of Holmes' apartment yielded a computer and a variety of Batman paraphernalia, including a poster and a mask, more evidence of his apparent obsession with the comic book hero.

Investigators also found 10 gallons of gasoline, which were removed from the apartment and detonated at a remote site.

Holmes is currently in custody at Arapahoe County Jail.

Some recently released inmates from the jail said Holmes is not likely to get a warm welcome from the other prisoners.

"They're paying really close attention to keeping him separate," Steven Phillips, who was recently released from there, told ABC News.  "He's in red, he's in chains, his arms are chained up in like a jacket.  When he came in, they said he had a bullet proof vest on over his clothes so somebody wouldn't stab him."

Phillips heard that Holmes is being kept in 23-hour lockdown, one of the most protected types of confinement.  He is given one hour outside his cell per day to shower and use the phone.

Jacob Wesson, also recently released from Arapahoe County Jail, said that because Holmes allegedly killed children, if he was kept with other inmates, they would hurt him.

"He wouldn't last," Wesson said.

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Monday
Jul232012

Colorado Movie Theater Shooting: Suspect to Appear in Court

University of Colorado Denver/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(AURORA, Colo.) -- Prosecutors are considering pursuing a death penalty case against James Holmes, the alleged gunman accused of a movie theater rampage in Aurora, Colo., last Friday that left 12 dead and 58 wounded.

A decision on charging Holmes, 24, with capital murder has not yet been made, but Arapahoe County District Attorney Carol Chambers told reporters on Monday that she is talking with victims and their family members about it.

There are currently only four people on Colorado's death row, and only one person has been executed in that state since 1976.  Nevertheless, experts expect prosecutors to seek the death penalty when Holmes is formally charged later this week.

Holmes is expected in court Monday for a preliminary hearing.

Members of the Aurora community are anxiously awaiting the hearing, which will mark the first time Holmes will been seen in public since his arrest following the deadly rampage at a midnight screening of the The Dark Knight Rises on July 20.

"He has harmed so many people," Police Chief Daniel Oates told ABC News.  "Not only the victims, but all of their extended families.  So I think it will be very hard."

Oates also said that Holmes' parents have remained silent.

"They're not talking to us right now," he said.  "Maybe that will change, but right now they are not talking to us."

The suspect will be brought to court from his jail cell at Arapahoe County Jail through an underground tunnel.

The court appearance is expected to be brief and will start the clock on the 72-hour deadline for the district attorney to file formal charges at an arraignment where Holmes will enter his plea.

The police chief told ABC News that his team is getting significant help from the FBI's behavioral analysts in trying to figure out what could have changed Holmes from a promising young student to a suspect in one of the largest mass shootings in U.S. history.

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