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24-year-old James Holmes. (CNN/University of Colorado)
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Updated: Monday, 23 Jul 2012, 4:37 PM EDT
Published : Friday, 20 Jul 2012, 8:43 AM EDT
AURORA, Colo. (AP) — The Aurora police chief says the suspect in the movie theater shooting set up booby traps in his apartment specifically to kill a police officer who might have opened the door.
Chief Dan Oates says "we sure as hell are angry" at that.
At a Saturday news conference, he also tried to head off a mental incompetence defense by saying suspect James Holmes was deliberate and calculating in receiving numerous commercial deliveries to his home and workplace over the past four months. He says that explains all the ammunition Holmes had.
Oates says the major threat has been removed from the apartment, but an FBI agent says some dangers still remains, though families should be allowed back into their apartments by Sunday.
Bomb techs disarm traps in Holmes' home
AURORA, Colo. (AP) — Authorities on Saturday began disarming trip wires and explosive devices "set up to kill" inside the apartment of the suspect in the deadly Colorado movie theater shooting, hoping to find clues to his motive without destroying key evidence in a blast.
Federal authorities detonated one small explosive and disarmed another inside James Holmes' suburban Denver apartment, including one that emits a shock wave and water, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity, citing the ongoing investigation into the shooting rampage that killed 12 people and wounded 58.
Holmes' apartment appears to have three types of explosives — jars filled with accelerants, chemicals that would explode when mixed together and more than 30 "improvised grenades," the official said.
Makeshift memorials sprang up for the victims, including a 6-year-old girl, an aspiring sportscaster and a man celebrating his 27th birthday, after police grimly went door to door with a list of those killed in the worst mass shooting in recent U.S. history.
Holmes, 24, was arrested early Friday outside the Aurora theater after witnesses say he unleashed gunfire and gas canisters on a crowd of moviegoers watching the midnight showing of the new Batman film, "The Dark Knight Rises."
The devices in Holmes' booby-trapped apartment were "set up to kill that person and that could have been a police officer executing a search warrant," Aurora police Sgt. Cassidee Carlson said.
Police planned an intricate procedure to disarm the possible weapons without destroying evidence that could be in the apartment.
"We don't want to lose evidential value," Carlson said.
Federal officials said in a bulletin obtained by The Associated Press that they still hadn't determined a motive for the suspect as families grieved and others waited at hospitals, where seven of the wounded remained in critical condition on Saturday.
Massacre motive, explosives occupy cops
AURORA, Colo. (AP) — Investigators looking for clues to the motive behind a deadly shooting rampage inside a movie theater sought once again Saturday to enter the suspect's elaborately booby trapped apartment, warning it may mean removing trip wires that could detonate the explosives, as the Denver suburb grieved for the dozens of victims.
The FBI and Homeland Security Department said there was no information indicating more shooting sprees were planned at movie theaters around the country, according to an intelligence bulletin obtained by The Associated Press.
(Update 10:45 a.m. MDT: Bomb technicians have successfully disarmed the first trip wire in the suspect's apartment and said it was rigged to explosives intended to kill whoever opened the door. Additional trip wires remain, and authorities are assessing their next move.)
Twelve people were killed and 58 were injured in the attack early Friday at the packed Aurora theater outside Denver. A few of those suffered injuries not by gunfire but in the chaos that ensued as the audience tried to flee the smoke-filled theater in a panicked dash for the doors, authorities said. Among the wounded, 11 were listed in critical condition.
After the shooting, police arrested James Holmes, 24, and determined his nearby apartment had been booby trapped, then ordered residents in the building and surrounding homes to evacuate.
Scores of law enforcement officials, including local bomb squad technicians and dozens of federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents gathered again at the apartment Saturday and planned to enter.
"It's safe right now with the evacuations so we don't want to rush anything," said Aurora police Sgt. Cassidee Carlson.
The apartment contains trip wires and jars that may contain accelerants, she said, noting authorities may be forced to detonate the explosives, which could cause a loud boom and a fire.
It remained unclear Saturday what drove the suspect to fire round after round at the unsuspecting audience watching "The Dark Knight Rises." Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said Holmes used a military-style semi-automatic rifle, a shotgun and a pistol that he had bought at local gun stores within the last two months. He also recently purchased 6,000 rounds of ammunition over the Internet, the chief said.
The suspect's stellar academic record, apparent shy demeanor and lack of a criminal background made the attack even more difficult to fathom.
It also wasn't known why the suspect chose a movie theater to stage the assault, or whether he intended some twisted, symbolic link to the film's violent scenes.
A federal law enforcement official said Holmes bought a ticket to "The Dark Knight Rises," went into the theater as part of the crowd and propped open an exit door as the movie was playing. The suspect then donned protective ballistic gear and opened fire, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the investigation.
Authorities said Holmes shot scores of people, picking off victims who tried to flee. At least one person was struck in an adjacent theater by gunfire that went through the wall. Adding to the terror and chaos were two gas canisters thrown by the suspect that filled the theater with smoke.
Techno music blared as massacre began
AURORA, Colo. (AP) — Colorado firefighters are monitoring an apartment building for gases in an effort to determine what chemicals one of its residents might have used to booby trap the place — in case the materials go off, authorities said Friday.
The resident, James Holmes, 24, is the suspect in a mass shooting early Friday at a movie theater about four miles away.
"It's a pretty extensive booby trap. We're not sure what it's attached to. There are trip wires. There are three containers and we don't know what's inside," said Chris Henderson, deputy Aurora fire chief.
If there is a detonation that causes a fire, firefighters will fight it from the outside of the building, he said.
The building and several around it have been evacuated.
Kaitlyn Fonzi, 20, a graduate student at University Hospital, said she lives in the apartment below that of the suspect.
About midnight, Fonzi said she heard techno-like, deep-based reverberating music coming from that unit apartment. She went upstairs to the suspect's place and put her hand on the door handle. She felt it was unlocked, but she didn't know if he was there and decided not to confront him.
"I yelled out and told him I was going to call the cops and went back to my apartment," she said.
Fonzi called police, who told her they were busy with a shooting and did not have time to respond to a noise disturbance. She said she was surprised to learn later that the apartment was booby trapped and was shaken by the news.
"I'm concerned if I had opened the door, I would have set it off," she said.
Fonzi said she had seen the man one or two times before but never talked with him.
She said she believes the music was on a timer because it started about the time of the shootings.
Police have searched apartments and broken out windows at the building, but Fonzi said she doesn't know the condition of her apartment or car.
When asked about plans to possibly try to detonate the device with a robot, she said, "It's not ideal situation, but if that has to be done to keep safe, then it has to be done."
University of Colorado pharmacy student Ben Lung, 27, who lives two floors down from the suspect, said he and other residents were evacuated around 2 a.m. by armed SWAT officers armed with rifles.
"I heard a loud crash. It sounded like an air conditioner falling to the ground. About 10 minutes later, I heard police knock on my door. Police were armed with assault rifles and they brought us outside the apartment building and started questioning us," Lung said.
Lung said a few residents upstairs had called police around midnight and complained about loud music coming from the suspect's apartment.
Michelle Thuis, 26, who lives in an apartment near the entrance to the building, said police woke her up when they stormed in around 2:30 a.m.
"I heard them breaking down the front door. I called the police on them, then I looked out and saw it was the police," she said.
Thuis described the building as quiet and populated largely by students and doctors affiliated with a nearby University of Colorado Denver medical campus.
The American Red Cross set up a shelter at Aurora Central High School for people evacuated from their residences because of the police search and monitoring.
Source: Movie shooter got guns locally
WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal law enforcement official says the four weapons recovered in the deadly movie shootings were all purchased by the suspect from retail gun stores in Colorado in the last two months.
James Holmes bought one of the four guns -- the first of two Glock pistols -- on May 22 at Gander Mountain in Aurora, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the probe into the shootings is ongoing.
The official also said that on May 28, Holmes purchased the shotgun used in the shootings from Bass Pro Shops in Denver, and that on June 7, Holmes bought the AR-15 assault rifle used in the attacks at a Gander Mountain store in Thornton, Colo.
On July 6, according to the official, Holmes returned to the Bass Pro Shops store in Denver and bought the other Glock pistol.
A second federal law enforcement official says Holmes had a high capacity ammunition clip in the assault rifle.
AP: Gunman's apartment booby-trapped
Police say the apartment of the suspect in a mass shooting at a Denver-area movie theater is booby trapped, so they've evacuated five surrounding buildings.
Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates says bomb technicians are determining how to disarm flammable or explosive material in the third-floor apartment. He says police could be there some time.
Oates says pictures from inside the apartment are fairly disturbing and the devices look to be sophisticated.
FBI agents and police used a hook and ladder fire truck and put a camera at the end of 12-foot pole inside the apartment where 24-year-old James Holmes lives.
The apartment is about four miles from the theater where at least 12 people were killed and 50 were wounded.
Aurora police: Officers on scene in 60-90 seconds
The police chief in the Denver suburb where a gunman shot 71 people says the suspect was arrested soon after officers arrived.
Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates says hundreds of calls came in starting at 12:39 a.m. MDT Friday and officers were on the scene within 60 to 90 seconds.
He says 24-year-old James Holmes was taken into custody at his white Hyundai parked in back of the theater.
Oates says eventually, 200 officers responded.
The chief says officers found an AR-15 assault rifle — the civilian form of the M-16 — a Remington 12-guage shotgun and a .40-caliber Glock handgun in the theater and another identical handgun in the car. Oates says the gunman set off two devices to distract the crowd that released a smoke or an irritant.
AP Source: Suspect bought ticket to movie
A U.S. official says the suspect in Friday's shootings inside a Colorado movie theater bought a ticket to the midnight showing of the latest Batman movie and went into the theater as part of the crowd.
A federal law enforcement official said suspect James Holmes is believed to have propped open an exit door in the theater as the movie was playing, donned protective ballistic gear and opened fire. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing investigation.
Police in Aurora, Colo., said Holmes fired at least 71 shots and killed at least 12 people. Police said he had an AR-15 assault rifle, a shotgun, and two .40-caliber Glock handguns. Holmes is also believed to have hurled a gas canister into the theater before opening fire.
AP Source: Suspect in Colo. shootings had 4 guns
The suspect in the deadly shootings in Colorado had an AR-15 assault rifle, a shotgun and two Glock pistols.
A federal law enforcement official says the suspect, identified by other federal law enforcement officials as James Holmes, also hurled a gas canister in the attack in a movie theater in the Denver suburb of Aurora, Colo. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing investigation.
Officials believe Holmes killed a dozen people when he open fired in the crowded theater. He was wearing a gas mask during the attack.
Investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, along with other local, state and federal law enforcement officials, are investigating the overnight attack.
Colo. suspect in doctoral program, not med school
The suspect in a mass shooting at a Colorado movie theater was in a doctoral program but was not in medical school.
Spokeswoman Jacque Montgomery says 24-year-old James Holmes was studying neuroscience in a Ph.D. program at the University of Colorado-Denver graduate school. University officials earlier said he was a student at the university's medical school.
Montgomery says Holmes enrolled in the program in June 2011 and was in the process of withdrawing.
Authorities say Holmes fired into a crowded movie theater in the Denver suburb of Aurora while wearing a gas mask.
Holmes graduated from high school in the San Diego area. He's in police custody, and the FBI says there is no indication the attack is tied to any terrorist groups.
Calif. neighbor of Colo. suspect says he was shy
A man who lives next door to the California family of a man suspected of shooting dozens of people at a Colorado movie theater says he was a loner.
Tom Mai is a retired electrical engineer who is neighbors with the family of 24-year-old James Holmes on a quiet, well-to-do San Diego street of two story homes with red tile roofs.
Mai says he said hello to Holmes once in a while but seemed to be shy.
Mai says the family lived there about 10 years. The mother is a nurse and the father is a manager at a software company. The suspect has a younger sister.
Mai says the mother told him Holmes couldn't find a job after earning a master's degree from a public university in California.
Witness tried to keep door closed on Colo. gunman
One of the people fleeing a mass shooting at a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" at a Denver-area movie theater says he tried to shut the door on the suspected gunman.
Twenty-three-year-old Eric Hunter says he and his friends made their way to an exit door after seeing smoke and hearing shots during the movie.
When they opened the door, Hunter says they saw two teenage girls — one of whom had been shot in the mouth.
Hunter says he was about to close the door when he saw the shooter, dressed in a bullet-proof vest and a gas mask, approaching.
Hunter says he held the door closed and the gunman banged on it for about 10 seconds
Afraid that the shooter would start firing through the door, Hunter says he let it go and managed to get out of the theater.
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