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Entries in Colorado shooting (24)

Monday
Jul232012

Colorado Shooting Survivors Try to Heal

Jamie Rohrs hugs Deidra Brooks. (Christina Ng/ABC News)(AURORA, Colo.) -- In the wake of a deadly shooting rampage that has devastated Aurora, Colo., and shocked the nation, the shooting's survivors are starting to try to put the pieces of their lives back together.

At a small church in Commerce City, about 10 miles outside of Aurora, the family of Jarell Brooks invited the family of Patricia Legarreta to join them at the New Life Worship Center, where Brooks' father is the pastor.

Legarreta was attending the sold-out midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises at a mall in Aurora on Friday with her fiance, 4-year-old daughter and infant son when suspected gunman James Holmes allegedly opened fire on the packed movie theater, killing 12 people and injuring 58 others. 

When Brooks, 19, saw Legarreta struggling to get herself and her children out of the theater, he helped guide them to the door and got shot in the leg in the process.

Brooks and Legarreta were reunited for the first time on Good Morning America Saturday and their families came together again at church on Sunday.

Legarreta attended the church service with her fiancé Jamie Rohrs, her children and her mother.  Brooks did not attend because of his injured leg, but his parents, Pastor Jeffrey Brooks and Deidra Brooks, led the service.

"I don't know how long it'll take for the hurt and pain to end," Jeffrey Brooks said to the congregation of about 40 people.  "But what I do know is if you put your trust in God, everything will be alright."

"I'm glad New Life is not planning a funeral this morning," he said.  "It could have been worse."

The floor of the small church shook from the soulful music, jumping, cheering and dancing.

Legarreta and her family were brought to the front of the church to be introduced and Rohrs was overcome with emotion when Deidra Brooks gave him a tight hug.

"We'll be here for you," Pastor Brooks told the family.  "You don't get much closer than that."

Deidra Brooks told that family and the congregation that they should disregard the online criticism about why the family took such young children to a movie showing and to believe that God had a plan for the family.

"It felt really good to just hear encouraging words from the pastor and it's a blessing just to be able to praise God," a choked up Rohrs told ABC News after the service.

Deidra Brooks said her son is in pain, both mentally and physically.

"Emotionally, he's at a point where he tries to make jokes ... but he's not sleeping well," she told ABC News.  "He doesn't want to watch any of the news stuff.  He hasn't watched TV at all."

She said her son no longer wants to play his video games, especially games that involve combat.

"I'm still concerned about him.  I want him to be able to come out of the house," Brooks said.  She is planning to set her son up with a counselor or therapist to help him.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Jul222012

ABC News Exclusive: First Video of Colorado Shooting Suspect James Holmes Emerges

ABC News(AURORA, Colo.) -- Federal authorities and local police on Sunday are scouring James Holmes' apartment for evidence as a newly released video gives some insight into the man who allegedly killed 12 people and injured 58 people at a packed screening of the latest Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises."

Overnight, ABC News obtained exclusive video and photos of Holmes. The video was recorded six years ago when Holmes was 18.

[WATCH THE VIDEO HERE]

In the video, he is standing among his peers at a science camp held at Miramar College in San Diego talking about "temporal illusions."

"Over the course of the summer I've been working with a temporal illusion. It's an illusion that allows you to change the past," Holmes said in the video.

He appears slightly nervous speaking to the group but also extremely intelligent.

This is how he was explaining his mentor's shared interest in fantasy versus reality in the video:

"He also studies subjective experience, which is what takes places inside the mind as opposed to the external world. I've carried on his work in dealing with subjective experience."

By most accounts, Holmes lived the life of a normal teen – with a particular interest in science.

This was how he was introduced at the seminar: "His goals are to become a researcher and to make scientific discoveries. In personal life, he enjoys playing soccer and strategy games and his dream is to own a slurpee machine."

Though Holmes was apparently a gifted scientist who had received a federal grant to work on his Ph.D. at one of the most competitive neuroscience programs in the country, he was a loner who -- oddly for a young scientist -- seemed to have no Internet presence.

Officials Saturday said they now have "evidence of calculation and deliberation," in the way he allegedly planned and prepared for the shooting, beginning to buy weapons and ammunition two months ago.

Holmes is originally from San Diego, where he once reportedly worked as a camp counselor for underprivileged children. He was an honors student at Westview High School, but did not walk in his graduation ceremony.

Holmes, 24, is currently in custody for Friday's massacre in Aurora, Colo.

Dressed in full riot gear, Holmes allegedly entered from an emergency exit in the front right corner of the theater before releasing something that witnesses identify as tear gas or a smoke bomb. From there, he allegedly sprayed the sold-out theater with a storm of bullets, injuring and killing both adults and children.

Overnight, new pictures have emerged of several explosions in a Colorado field where investigators took chemical materials recovered from Holmes' apartment.

Crews reportedly transported the materials by dump truck to the field so that they could be ignited -- and determined if they were in fact explosives.

Federal authorities and local police have now pulled all of the potential explosives from Holmes' apartment after gaining entry and eliminating potentially explosive traps Saturday.

The apartment, about 800 square feet, contained several trip wires rigged to trigger explosions.

Scattered throughout the living room were 30 explosive devices - including jars with chemicals and 30 shells with explosive powder - similar to large fireworks.

Bomb squads carefully neutralized the two main threats at the entrance of his apartment using a "water shot" and remote-controlled robot.

Oates said the suspect's intentions were clear.

"What we're seeing here is some evidence of calculation and deliberation," Oates said. Holmes was an honors student and Ph.D. candidate at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. He was enrolled in the graduate program in neuroscience until he voluntarily withdrew from the program in June.

He was one of six recipients of a Neuroscience Training Grant from the National Institutes of Health, which funds pre-thesis Ph.D. students in the neuroscience program at the Anschutz Medical Campus.

According to the university, the focus of the program is on "training outstanding neuroscientists and academicians who will make significant contributions to neurobiology."

He reportedly failed a preliminary exam before pulling out of the program, according to ABC News' Denver affiliate KMGH-TV. It is unclear if the exam was related to his decision to leave the program.

KMGH was told that even if Holmes did fail the exam, he would not have been kicked out of the program because students have an opportunity to improve their grades with an oral exam.

"I don't know any of that and I don't know that we have any of that information on him," Anschutz Medical Campus spokeswoman Jacque Montgomery told ABCNews.com.

The university said Holmes gave no reason for asking to withdraw from the program.

Last year, Holmes applied to the University of Arizona, according to statement by the school, but was rejected, KPHO-TV in Phoenix reported.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Jul222012

Movie Theater Shooting Prompts Gun Control Debate

AbleStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The worst mass shooting in U.S. history has sparked a renewed debate about gun control laws in the country.

James Holmes, a 24 year old student at the University of Colorado Medical School was detained Friday following the shooting of 70 people inside a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. Twelve people were killed in the attack, which was carried out with an assault rifle, a shotgun and a pair of Glock pistols at the midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises.”

Not much is yet known about Holmes, but investigations into the weapons he owns show that he purchased them legally. He purchased the four guns at local shops, and bought more than 6,000 rounds of ammunition on the Internet in the past 60 days, Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said.

“All the ammunition he possessed, he possessed legally, all the weapons he possessed, he possessed legally, all the clips he possessed, he possessed legally,” Oates said. As far as investigators know now, Holmes had a clean background, with the exception of a single traffic ticket.

The right to bear arms is a constitutionally protected right in America, and in Colorado, the laws aren’t very strict. Background checks are required for purchases at gun shows, under an initiative voted into law after the Columbine shootings in 2000. However, there is no ban on assault weapons or high capacity ammunition clips. Registration and gun owner licenses aren’t required, and background checks for online sales aren’t required.

Advocates of increased gun control laws point to events like this one as evidence that the nation needs to adopt stricter laws about who can buy firearms, and what firearms they can buy.

New York City Mayor Bloomberg has been an outspoken advocate of stronger gun control rules as a chair of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. On his radio show Friday, Bloomberg called on top politicians to make their stance on gun laws clear.

“Maybe it’s time that the two people who want to be president of the United States stand up and tell us what they’re going to do,” Bloomberg said. “Because this is obviously a problem across the country.”

Polls indicate most Americans favor stricter gun laws, but the issue hasn’t been rated as a highly important political one, because of conflicting sentiments about how to respond. Many people think stricter enforcement of existing laws is preferable to creating new laws, and that the availability of guns is not itself the primary cause of gun violence.

In the past, attitudes toward gun laws haven’t changed in response to gun crimes like the Aurora movie theater shooting.

Still, gun sales are climbing, and few politicians are willing to work towards strengthening gun laws.

This debate isn’t a new one for the community surrounding Aurora. Columbine, where 13 years ago two students opened fire on their high school classmates, killing 13, is just a short drive from Aurora.

Tom Mauser, whose son Daniel was killed at Columbine, became a gun control advocate following his son’s death.

“It makes me angry. It makes me angry for America when other countries are looking at us saying, ‘are you nuts?’” Mauser told ABC News’ Clayton Sandell. “When you have magazines that can hold 30, 50, 100 rounds, that makes it easy for people like [the Aurora movie theater shooter].”

According to the latest numbers of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, there are 123,000 licensed firearms dealers in the United States, meaning there are roughly as many gun dealers as there are gas stations.

Between 2006 and 2010 more than 47,000 people were killed in the United States by firearms, according to ATF reports.

Pro-gun rights advocates argue that gun ownership is a protected right, and that law-abiding gun owners shouldn’t be punished because of those who break the law.

“You can’t stop selling guns. If you’re going to be in an armed country, you’re just going to have to deal with the occasional fruit loop,” gun owner Andrew Wright told Sandell. “That’s the way it goes. It’s unfortunate, it really is.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Jul222012

Colorado Shooting Suspect: Authorities Find Evidence of 'Calculation and Deliberation' 

Thomas Cooper/Getty Images(Aurora, Colo.) -- Investigators have learned that James Holmes, the man accused of perpetrating the largest massacre in American history, had received a significant number of commercial deliveries to his home and office, as they try to build a picture of the alleged shooter and the events leading up to the largest mass shooting in American history.

"What we're seeing here is some evidence of calculation and deliberation," said Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates.

Bomb technicians spent much of Saturday morning making Holmes' Aurora, Colo., apartment safe to enter, and investigators then worked into the evening collecting evidence and securing the scene, said Jim Yacone of the FBI.

After 7 p.m. local time, residents in neighboring buildings were allowed back into their homes for the first time since early Friday morning, though tenants in Holmes' building would have to wait until Sunday.

"An extensive amount of evidence" is being collected and will be sent to the FBI's crime lab in Quantico, Va., Yacone said.

Authorities conducted a controlled detonation on Saturday as they slowly entered the booby-trapped apartment, which authorities said was "set up to kill."

"It was an extremely dangerous environment. If [someone] had walked in that door, they would have sustained significant injuries or lost their life," Yacone said.

A robot driven by a bomb technician and dynamic destruction tools were used to slowly and methodically disable explosive devices while also preserving evidence, Yacone said.

A loud pop was heard, but there was no visible smoke or fire at the scene. The street outside the apartment was shut down and residents were notified of the explosion by a reverse 911 call.

Police said Friday that a large number of explosive devices and trip wires were found at Holmes' apartment in an "elaborate" set-up.

One official told ABC News there were wires everywhere and described Holmes as a like a mad scientist.

Some devices appeared to be strapped to boxes of bullets and what looked like mortar rounds, police said.

The "flammable and explosive" materials could have blown up Holmes' apartment building and the ones near it, police said.

After a thorough search of Holmes' apartment, police moved into the investigation phase, hoping Holmes' computer -- if he has one -- and any writings could provide a gateway to understanding his motive.

A former doctoral student, Holmes is suspected of killing 12 people at the screening of the latest Batman movie in Aurora early Friday morning. Fifty-eight people were wounded.

Authorities have finished sweeping the Century 16 theater and plan to turn it over to Holmes' defense on Tuesday and back to theater owners on Wednesday, Oates said.

Personal belongings that were left behind amid the chaos and carnage were recovered by Aurora police, who plan to work with victims advocates to help reunite people who were in the theater that night with their belongings, providing there is no forensic link, Oates said.

Among the dead include Micayla Medek, 23; Alex Sullivan, 27, who was attending the movie for his birthday; Ohio native Matt McQuinn; and Alex Teves, 24.

Two other people died at the hospital, including 24-year-old aspiring sportscaster Jessica Ghawi. Police said 30 people remained hospitalized with 11 of them in critical condition. Bullets from the shooting spree tore through the theater and into adjoining theaters, where at least one other person was struck and injured.

John Larimer, a member of the Navy, was also confirmed by his family to be among the dead. The family said they were notified at their Illinois home by a Navy notification team that Larimer was dead.

Veronica Moser, 6, was killed, according to the Denver Post. The girl's mother, Ashley Moser, 25, is in critical condition after she was shot in the throat and abdomen, said her aunt, Annie Dalton.

Oates announced Friday that Holmes had purchased four guns at local shops and more than 6,000 rounds of ammunition on the Internet in the past 60 days.

"All the ammunition he possessed, he possessed legally, all the weapons he possessed, he possessed legally, all the clips he possessed, he possessed legally," an emotional Oates told reporters.

The chief said "he could have gotten off 50 to 60 rounds, even if it was semi-automatic, within one minute," Oates said.

Eyewitness and victim accounts of the mass shooting in the packed movie theater paint a picture of panic and horror.

Eric Hunter said this morning that he was in an adjacent theater to where the shooting took place, when bullets "came right through the walls."

"When the first three shots rang out, we didn't know if it was part of the movie or not," he said. "I saw blood on the stairs and I turned to the crowd and said there's something wrong and we need to call the cops."

Hunter then said he made his way to the emergency exit door, where he saw two teen girls outside, one of whom had been hit by bullet and was asking for help. That's when Hunter said he saw the shooter.

"I saw the gunman coming around the corner so I held the door for about five seconds," Hunter said. "He's banging on the door, banging on the door... I didn't know if he was going to shoot the door. I didn't know what he had."

Holmes allegedly entered the movie auditorium wearing a ballistics helmet, bulletproof vest, bulletproof leggings, gas mask and gloves. He detonated multiple smoke bombs, and then began firing at viewers in the sold-out auditorium, police said Friday.

Holmes, who is being held in jail and will make his first court appearance Monday, is originally from Riverside, Calif., where he attended the University of California branch, Oates said Friday.

"Neighbors report that he lived alone and kept to himself," he added.

Holmes was apprehended within minutes of the 12:39 a.m. shooting at his car behind the theater, where police found him in full riot gear and carrying three weapons, including an AR-15 assault rifle, which can hold upwards of 100 rounds, a Remington 12-gauge shotgun, and a .40 Glock handgun. A fourth handgun was found in the vehicle.

Agents from the federal bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms are tracing the weapons.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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