Colorado shooting: Batman mask found in apartment
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Last Updated: Monday, July 23, 2012, 13:19
  
Zeenews Bureau

Aurora: A batman mask as been recovered from the apartment of James Holmes, suspected of killing 12 people and injuring 58 others after opening fire during a midnight screening of Batman film ‘The Dark Knight Rises’.

A US official, on conditions of anonymity, said that the mask was found inside the apartment of Holmes after sophisticated booby traps were removed.

Holmes has been put in solitary confinement and is not co-operating with the police. “Holmes is lawyered up and is not talking to us,” said Aurora Police Chief, Dan Oates.

Police have said that Holmes began buying guns at Denver-area stores nearly two months before Friday's shooting and that he received at least 50 packages in four months at his home and at school. Also on Sunday, a gun range owner east of Denver said he recently rejected a membership application from Holmes in part because of a bizarre voice mail greeting on Holmes' phone.

When Rotkovich called to invite him to a mandatory orientation the following week, he said he heard a message on Holmes' voice mail that was "bizarre — guttural, freakish at best."

He left two other messages but eventually told his staff to watch out for Holmes at the July 1 orientation and not to accept him into the club, Rotkovich said.

While the University of Colorado disclosed that it was cooperating with police in the case, that disclosure was one of the few the university has made three days after the massacre. It remained unclear whether Holmes' professors and other students at his 35-student Ph.D. program noticed anything unusual about his behavior.

His reasons for quitting the program in June, just a year into the five- to seven-year program, also remained a mystery.

Holmes 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, including retaking the exam. University officials would not say if he passed, citing privacy concerns.

The university said Holmes gave no reason for his withdrawal, a decision he made in June.

Holmes was not allowed access from the institution after his withdrawal, which was "standard operating procedure" because he was no longer affiliated with the school, Montgomery said. Holmes had no contact with university police, she said.

The university declined to release any details of his academic record, citing privacy concerns, and at least two dozen professors and other staff declined to speak with The Associated Press. Some said they were instructed not to talk publicly about Holmes in a blanket email sent to university employees.

Jacque Montgomery, a spokeswoman for the University of Colorado medical school, said that police have told the school to not talk about Holmes. The university also took down the website for its graduate neuroscience program on Saturday.

Amid the continuing investigation of Holmes and his background, Sunday was a day for healing and remembrance in Aurora, with President Barack Obama arriving to visit with families of the victims and a vigil that began in the early evening.

Congregations across Colorado prayed for the shooting victims and their relatives. Churches sent out social-media appeals for neighbors who wanted to join in remembrance. Hundreds gathered for prayers and healing at the vigil Sunday night, where a banner said, "Angels Walk With Those Who Grieve."

Ritchie Duong, a friend who has known Holmes for more than a decade, told the Los Angeles Times that in high school he liked to play cards and video games. They both attended undergraduate school at the University of California, Riverside, where they saw each other once a week to watch the TV show "Lost."

Duong last saw Holmes in December when they met for dinner in Los Angeles and saw a movie together. His friend seemed fine, he told the newspaper. Academics came easily to Holmes both at high school and at the UC Riverside, Duong said.

"I had one college class with him, and he didn't even have to take notes or anything. He would just show up to class, sit there, and around test time he would always get an 'A,'" said Duong, 24.

The pastor for the family of the suspect also 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, senior pastor of Penasquitos Lutheran Church. Borgie said he never saw the suspect mingle with others his age at church.

Holmes told the pastor he wanted to attend a University of California school and pursue graduate studies. Borgie, who last spoke with Holmes about six years ago, doesn't remember the suspect being more specific about his goals.

"He had some goals. He wanted to succeed, he wanted to go out, and he wanted to be the best," Borgie said. "He took pride in his academic abilities. A good student. He didn't brag about it."

The family has belonged to the church for about 10 years, Borgie said. The suspect's mother, Arlene, attends services every week and volunteers her time.

During the attack early Friday, the gunman's semiautomatic assault rifle jammed during the attack at the Aurora movie theater, forcing him to switch to another gun with less firepower, a federal law enforcement official told The Associated Press. That malfunction and weapons switch during the shooting rampage might have saved some lives.

Oates said a 100-round ammunition drum was found in the theater but said he did not know whether it jammed or emptied.

Police have finished collecting evidence from the apartment where the Colorado shooting suspect lived, but residents are still not allowed back into the building because of chemical hazards. Aurora police said Sunday residents can retrieve personal items, but the building remains closed.

(With Agency Inputs)


First Published: Monday, July 23, 2012, 13:19


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