The suspected gunman in the
Colorado theater massacre headed to his first court appearance Monday,
but authorities said he refuses to talk, and it could take months to
learn what prompted one of the worst mass shootings in US history.
James Holmes, 24, has been held in solitary
confinement awaiting his hearing, where the charges of suspicion of
first-degree murder will be read against him. Friday's shootings left 12
dead and 58 wounded, some critically.
prosecutor said her office is considering pursuing the death penalty
against Holmes. Eighteenth Judicial District Attorney Carol Chambers
said a decision will be made in consultation with victims' families.
Police have said Holmes began buying guns at
Denver-area stores nearly two months before the shooting and that he
received at least 50 packages in four months at his home and at school.
He recently purchased 6,000 rounds of ammunition over the Internet,
Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said.
attack, Holmes allegedly set off gas canisters and used a semiautomatic
rifle, a shotgun and a pistol to open fire, Oates said.
The semiautomatic assault rifle jammed during the attack,
forcing the gunman to switch to another gun with less firepower, a
federal law enforcement official told The Associated Press. That
malfunction and weapons switch might have saved some lives.
The owner of a gun range told The Associated Press that
Holmes applied to join the club last month but never became a member
because of his behavior and a "bizarre" message on his voice mail.
When Lead Valley Range owner Glenn Rotkovich called to
invite Holmes to a mandatory orientation the following week, he said he
heard a message on Holmes' voice mail that was " guttural, freakish at
He eventually told his staff to watch out
for Holmes at the July 1 orientation and not to accept him into the
club, Rotkovich said.
Officials at the
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus were looking into whether
Holmes, a former doctoral student in neuroscience, used his position in
a graduate program to collect hazardous materials.
Holmes' reasons for quitting the doctoral program in June, just a
year into the five- to seven-year program, remained a mystery. He
recently took an intense, three-part oral exam that marks the end of the
first year. Those who do well continue with their studies and shift to
full-time research, while those who don't do well meet with advisers and
discuss their options. University officials would not say if he passed,
citing privacy concerns.
Ritchie Duong, a
friend who has known Holmes for more than a decade, told the Los Angeles
Times that he last saw Holmes in December and his friend seemed fine.
Academics came easily to Holmes, Duong said. "I had
one college class with him, and he didn't even have to take notes or
The family's pastor recalled a shy boy who was driven to succeed academically.
"He wasn't an extrovert at all. If there was any
conversation, it would be because I initiated it, not because he did,"
said Jerald Borgie, who last spoke with Holmes about six years ago.
Sunday was a day for healing and remembrance in
Aurora. Several thousand people attended a prayer vigil, and President
Barack Obama visited with families of the victims.
Obama said he told the families that "all of America and much of the world is thinking about them."